Between the Acts
When Illusion Suceeds
Ms. La Trobe says it best in Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts: 'This is death, death, death - when illusion fails.' (p. 180) Various characters in the novel create illusions to escape from the reality that grieves them. And those illusions are continually interrupted by other characters who purposely or accidentally clear away the smoke and blow real air into the dreamers' faces. Ms. La Trobe is probably correct: when illusion fails, it probably is death. But she also probably went too far: Between the Acts reveals to us the resiliency of illusion, and the difference between a dream interrupted and a dream destroyed.
The scene in the Pointz Hall library is laden with illusions created and shattered. First we see old Bart dozing in his chair, dreaming of 'himself, a young man helmeted, and in the sand a hoop of ribs, and in the shadow of the rock, savages; and in his hand a gun.' (p. 17) It is a poignant juxtaposition: a wearied old man in his comfortable chair in his sheltered home in England and the same man, many years earlier, undomesticated in his untamed India. Is it this his old gun in his hand, or only the arm of his 'chintz-covered chair?' (p. 17) Isa enters. 'Am I interrupting?'...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1039 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8013 literature essays, 2248 sample college application essays, 348 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in