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The Communication in Woolf’s Novels

Author CuiJieYing
Tutor XiaoJinLong
School Nanjing University
Course Comparative Literature and World Literature
Keywords Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse Mrs. Dalloway communication
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Virginia Woolf is a famous modern British writer and one of pioneers of stream of consciousness fiction. Her novels subtly record the conscious activities and demonstrate the vast spiritual world. Accordingly, the communication between characters in her novels also appears characteristics which are distinct from the past. Through setting To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway as examples, this thesis explores Woolf’s perception to communication from aspect of the importance of communication, Woolf’s reformation to communication, and the types and features of communication. So that the distinct nature of communication in Woolf’s writings will be demonstrated—that is conveying ineffable experiences by both verbal and nonverbal communication.According to the current research, scholars mainly discuss about the characteristics of modernity in Woolf’s writings from the research angles of the stream of consciousness technique, the narrative perspective, the aesthetic thoughts and the feminism, etc. However, few scholars pay attention to Woolf’s exploration to the communication. Thereby, this thesis will be a useful attempt in this field.The thesis is divided into six parts:The introduction part briefly demonstrates Woolf’s life and writings, as well as the situation of Woolf study at home and abroad. Moreover, it shows that this thesis strives to demonstrate the innovation of Woolf’s literature concepts through exploring Woolf’s perception to the communication. The chapter one analyzes the importance of communication in Woolf’s life and writings:It is a significant way for post-war western people to extricate themselves from spiritual loneliness. Additionally, Woolf believed that the instrumental communication which was motivated by certain external aims was harmful for people to communicate deep feelings to each other. Therefore, she held a critical attitude to it.The chapter two sets works by Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Dostoevsky and Chekhov as examples, and introduces how these writers deal with the communication between characters. In addition, through analyzing the criticism of Woolf, this thesis proves that Woolf preferred the communication which reveals the inner truth, rather than the instrumental one. Moreover, on the basis of previous writers, Woolf also tried to explore new methods of communication to express ineffable experiences.The third chapter divides the communication in Woolf’s novels into verbal communication and nonverbal communication by analyzing To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. Additionally, these two types could be further divided by the contents and media of communication.Through close reading, the fourth chapter points out the characteristics of communication:The verbal communication is alternated and confused with consciousness activities, appearing the tendency of fracture. Meanwhile, since the nonverbal communication exists in consciousness, it is not limited by the physical time and appears ambiguous. Furthermore, all these features are helpful to express the non-rational and ineffable experiences.At last, the conclusion section summarizes the whole thesis, and associates Woolf’s exploration to the communication with the thoughts of modernism. It comes to a conclusion that what Woolf strived to construct was an ideal mode of communication in the modern life. However, Woolf’s ideal mode could not help the post-war western people get rid of spiritual loneliness in practice.

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