A Modern Look at Gender; Internal and External Gendering in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf College
In the early twentieth century, many writers began to give a more complex, nuanced, and realistic portrayal of the issues that surround gender. Virginia Woolf, often heralded as one of the most important voices in feminist literature, wrote about this concept in a way that, considering this was during her time a recently “new” issue, is startlingly astute and, to use a modern term, queer. James Joyce, in a similar way, tackled this concept in a way that was bold and dynamic, presenting gender as a complex internalised issue, a concept that defines our identities. Both Woolf and Joyce, in their respective texts, present gender in a highly realistic way that delves deep into this concept.
In “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” Woolf provides a female character that presents both the internalisation of gender, as well as the inherent gendering of language. The story’s opening sentence presents this gendering of language: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the gloves herself.” Clarissa Dalloway is initially introduced by her formal title, Mrs., clarifying that she is married, and therefore defining her character as a wife. By clarifying her marital status, Woolf projects onto the character of Clarissa all of the reader’s...
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