The Hours

Memory and Role Play in The Hours

Among the many themes explored in The Hours is the effect that certain pivotal moments have on our lives. The first and most obvious of these moments is described in the prologue: Virginia weighs herself down with stones and walks into the river. This moment affects the reader's reaction to the rest of the book because the interpretations of Virginia's story are always colored by the knowledge that she will eventually take her own life. In a similar sense, Clarissa's relationships with Richard and Louis are colored by her memories of them as teenagers. She thinks of these memories as a permanent part of her: "She will always have been standing on a high dune in the summer. She will always have been young and indestructibly healthy, a little hung over, wearing Richard's cotton sweater as he wraps a hand around her neck and Louis stands slightly apart, watching the waves." Like Virginia, Laura's consideration of suicide hangs over her head for most of the book.

The idea of suicide as an escape is one that is particularly important throughout the book. Various characters turn to their imaginations as a means of escaping from the worlds in which they live. Most obviously, Laura seems to be trapped in...

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