Mrs. Dalloway

Stoic Communication: Understanding Quiet Suffering through Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours College

Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway uses themes that scrutinize the environment of interwar England, which inhibited the ability to effectively communicate one’s thoughts and feelings, because the cultural norm dismissed them in favor of keeping a “stiff upper lip”. In order to survive in this setting, the characters of Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours have means of escaping reality, in which they can ignore their feelings or temporarily alleviate the fear of their own mortality. The finality of suicide is presented to the characters as both an end to their problems, either via death or learning from someone else’s death. Lastly discussed is how Woolf’s inner interior monologue works to convey to the readers firsthand how difficult it is to understand other’s thoughts and feelings.

The Hours’ stories through three generations provides another outlet for explaining Woolf’s larger theme of escape through universal suffering, whilst visually translating the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Mrs. Dalloway takes place after the Great War, which is still fresh enough in people’s minds that while there is a sense of gratitude, Septimus’ introduction as a character struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder serves to remind the...

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