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An Analysis of "Angel in the House"in Mrs. Dalloway

Author KongSuPing
Tutor ShenFuYing
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Mrs. Dalloway feminism Angel in the House repression awakening
CLC I561.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
Downloads 27
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As one of the most famous writers in the twentieth century in Britain, Virginia Woolf is the representative figure of stream of consciousness as well as the forerunner of feminist literature. She explores women’s spiritual world with her peculiar female sensitivity. She not only presents the unique experience, sufferings, destiny and female consciousness of females but also calls for the awakening of female consciousness in her works, which fully embodies her distinct feminist thought.Mrs. Dalloway, one of the masterpieces of Virginia Woolf, is considered as "a full expression of Woolf s genius". Through the application of various writing techniques of stream of consciousness, Woolf successfully portrays the image of Mrs. Dalloway as "the Angel in the House" and her depressive state of survival in the Victorian patriarchy society.The events narrated in Mrs. Dalloway all take place on one single day in June1923. Woolf’s narration of Clarissa Dalloway’s day begins with her preparations for a party she is holding at her house that evening, and it ends as the party gets underway. Clarissa Dalloway is a lady of high degree. Her husband is a member of parliament with promising future and her daughter is beautiful and intelligent and her house is splendid with numerous silverwares and servants. Though living in a respectable life after marriage, Clarissa seems to be depressive and has always been suffering from loneliness and horror. Following the stream of consciousness of Clarissa, we get to know her experiences from18to52. Through her memories and thoughts, readers witness Clarissa’s exploration of self identity and the essence of life, interpretation of life and death, and process of budding, awakening and growth of her female consciousness.Imprisoned by Victorian values and the patriarchal society, the "Angel in the House"---Mrs. Dalloway is in subordinate and passive position in politics, economy, marriage and social life. Therefore, based on the framework of feminism, this thesis tries to analyze Mrs. Dalloway’s unequal treatment in politics and economy, depression in marriage and social life, and the process of budding, awakening and growth of her female consciousness.Apart from introduction and conclusion, this thesis is composed of three chapters.In introduction, it mainly introduces Woolf s literary status and her female consciousness, the plot of Mrs. Dalloway, and literature review on Mrs. Dalloway at home and abroad. A brief survey is also done on feminism as the theoretical framework of this thesis.Chapter One focuses on the common characteristics of "Angel in the House", the image of Mrs. Dalloway as "Angel in the House", as well as her depression in marriage and social life. Constrained and oppressed by the Victorian patriarchy society, Mrs. Dalloway is in a passive position in marriage and social life, and suffers depression and loneliness. This repression of Mrs. Dalloway lays foundation for later awakening of her feminist consciousness.Chapter Two illustrates the development of Clarissa’s feminist consciousness from budding, awakening to pursuing equality, and mainly focuses on her awakening in marriage life and social life. Clarissa’s constant pursuit of self identity illustrates her wish for happiness in marriage and equality in social status. Although she does economically dependent on her husband, she is spiritually independent. Clarissa’s choice in marriage not only illustrates her adherence to "independent spirit" but also fully reveals women’s consciousness of equality in marriage, which fully shows the feminism consciousness of Woolf.Chapter Three mainly analyzes Mrs. Dalloway’s meditation on life and death and factors promoting the awakening of her feminist consciousness, that is the internal personalities and external factors. Clarissa’s appreciation of Sally Seton reflects the independent and rebellious side in her character; Clarissa’s attitude towards life and love, especially attitude towards her former lover Peter Walsh shows the optimistic and romantic side in her character; Clarissa’s meditation on life and death in daily life and introspection on Septimus’suicide reveals the introspective side in her character. All the factors above impel Clarissa’s discovery of her inner self and finally promote the awakening and growth of her feminist consciousness. From above analysis, readers learn about the oppression and imprisonment that the "Angel in the House" represented by Clarissa has been suffering in the patriarchy society, as well as their subordinate and passive status in society, politics, economy and marriage life, which further reveals Woolf s exposure and resistance to the patriarchal oppression. The successful portrayal of the image of Mrs. Dalloway fully confirms Woolf’s feminist view of "killing the Angel in the House". On the other hand, through the process of the budding, awakening and growth of Mrs. Dalloway’s feminist consciousness, Woolf actually guides the reader on a spiritual journey of self-discovery, self-fulfillment and self-transcendence. In short, this thesis helps us to better understand not only the novel Mrs. Dalloway but also Woolf’s feminist view and its influence upon the development of feminist literary criticism.

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