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Virginia Woolf’s Modernism and Its Representation in Mrs. Dalloway

Author ZhouJuan
Tutor ZhangLiLong
School Xiamen University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Virginia Woolf modernism Mrs. Dalloway
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 349
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This thesis aims to examine Woolf’s modernism and its representation in her first mature modernist novel Mrs. Dalloway.It intends to show that Virginia Woolf is a pioneer modernist writer. She is a pioneer, because her modernism not only has the general features of modernism, but features of her own. Her indirect access to modernist thinking, her indebtness to Victorian heritage, her optimistic attitude towards urban environment and her identity of being a woman make her modernism all the way distinctive.This thesis is divided into three chapters plus "Introduction" and "Conclusion". In the "Introduction" part, I summarize Woolf study in Western countries and in China, from the year 1996 to 2006. By doing so I intend to show how far Western and Chinese Woolf scholars have gone. I also tell the reason why I chose Mrs. Dalloway as the very novel for this thesis, and summarize researches on this novel.Chapter one is a general introduction to the life of Virginia Woolf. Her growing environment, the Bloomsbury Group, the Hogarth press, and the history of her nerves breakdown are mentioned, since all these factors are instrumental in the formation of Woolf’s modernism and of great importance for people to understand that.Chapter two is about Woolf’s modernism which embraces the general characteristics of modernism, and Woolfian modernism as well. By saying the general characteristics of modernism, I mean the disenchantment sentimentality and the search for new techniques. When coming to Modernism, one can not neglect the bleakness, the rootlessness, and the disenchantment after the First World War. Woolf, like her contemporaries, addresses these issues in her works, especially in the shell-shocked soldier, Steptimus Warren Smith in Mrs. Dalloway. However it is not proper to paint these decades with unending gray, for one can not neglect the modernists’s passion for technique innovation. Virginia Woolf is active in technique experimentation, especially in visual and sensual experiment and her techniques of "shower of atoms". By saying Woolfian modernism, I mean her indirect access to modernist thinking, her indebtness to Victorian heritage, and her optimistic attitudes towards urban life, and I analyze their representation in Mrs. Dalloway. Chapter three discusses Woolf’s modernism in the light of Woolf’s being a woman writer. The marginalized situation of women artists in the modernist context is mentioned, and Woolf’s subversion is analyzed through her work Mrs. Dalloway, which includes Woolf’s advocacy for female creativity, her triumph over psychiatrist, and the same sex love. Woolf’s advocacy for female creativity can be seen through Clarissa, Rezia and Clarissa’s preparation for her party; her triumph over psychiatrist is reflected in Septimus and Clarissa’s victory over Sir Homes and Sir Bradshaw, who stand for the patriarchal force; the same sex love is embodied in the love between Clarissa and Sally, which subverts the heterosexual love imposed by patriarchal society.In "Conclusion", I talk about the strong points and shortcomings of this thesis, and point out new ways to do further research.

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