Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mrs. Dollaway

Since I finished the first pages for my altered book I've been noticing the way Mrs. Dollaway inspires me visually. One visual element I definitely want to make use of is Big Ben, for several reasons. The novel has a very tight time line, one day, this time is very important. Also, there seems to be a fear of death motivating the characters, especially Clarissa and the passing of time represents movement towards death. I might try to incorporate the image of "leaden circle dissolving in the air" an expression that occurs several times in the novel. I think this is speaking on the permanence of time passed as well as the fleetingness of the present.

Another image that I want to work with is flowers. First of all flowers are very visually appealing and offer a lot of artistic possibilities. Flowers are an important symbol in the book. They are symbols for many different emotions and ideas. They represent Clarissa's independence because she chooses to go out and get them for herself. I think they also represent the life she has chosen, because Richard gives her roses, as opposed to the life she would have had with Peter.

I might dedicate another page to the old women who lives in the house across from Clarissa. The old woman represents loneliness in the novel, specifically the lonliness that comes from growing old. Conversely Clarissa see's some beauty in the privacy and lack of communication in the woman's life. She is free of anyone who might oppress her. Clarissa see's herself and a possible future of isolation in the old woman.

I think the idea of loneliness is also rendered visibly to the ocean. Characters seem to be often feeling as though they are drowning, or that there are lost at sea. I might make my ocean page from Jacob's Room a spread. This makes sense the element because of water stands for a similar kind of melancholy in that novel. The ocean also seems to be connected to Septimus and his suicide. Clarissa seems to veiw his death as a positive act, she's glad he did it.

Another thing I was thinking about, although I'm not sure how I would portray it's visual is Septimus's depression as a reflections of Woolf's mental ailment. I also wonder if his suicide in the book is a grim foreshadowing of her own suicide. I feel that it at least is indicative of her feeling toward suicide as being a possible escape, rather than tragedy. It is especially an escape if one is as mentally tormented as Woolf or Septimus. The way that Clarissa reacts to his death, and see's herself reflected in it, may be a stand in for Virginia herself. "She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away"(115)

Another important theme in the book is love that cannot be acted upon. Of course there is Peter and Clarissa. Since she rejected him, they both still think about on another. Part of Clarissa's depressive thoughts are related to wondering what her life with Peter would have been like. Then there is Clarissa's romantic relationship with Sally. They had one kiss which was the peak in Clarissa's life. They can never be together because of the restraints of traditional society.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Critical Ariticle Analysis

Woolf’s Angel and the Demon Reader
Oren Goldschmidt

This article focuses on the roles of women in Virginia Woolf writing, more specifically how she negotiates complex and evolving aspects of femininity. She's is dealing with the 19th century Victorian attitude of oppression of the woman. Yet she doesn't want to rid herself of these vestiges entirely, she calls these values "an inheritance that can be useful to modernity in many ways." (215) It must have been a struggle because the Victorian woman seems to be of no substance by herself, she is judged by her relationships. Her relationship with her husband and thus with the home and domestic duty. Her existence is also based on her social connections.

In the portrayal of women, Woolf was forced to walk the line between breaking the norms and confirming them.The author claims that Woolf repeatedly uses a "hostess" character to simultaneously display these roles and to "reclaim feminine creative power." 216 This dualism in the works of Virginia's Woolf is the main idea of the text. I don't think I've read enough criticism to know what critical crux this article fits into, I would imagine there's a large body of work about women in Woolf's work and how she translates her past with repressive Victorian values.

This article was written on June 9, 2010, so it is very recent. While the article provides fascinating insight on the complex language used to portray femininity it does not claim to invent anything new. The text doesn't focus on any text in particular, but it does shed light on the challenges Woolf dealt with while trying to make her way to modernity. It is partially a response to a book written about Woolf and domesticity. While this article was interesting, I would not say it is necessary.

Goldschmidt, Oren. "Woolf's Angel and the Demon Reader." Women 21.2 (2010): 214-216. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2010.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Fundamenatal Shift in the way Fiction is Produced

Woolf chronicles this shift in "Mr Bennett and Mrs. Brown". It was written in response to an article by Mr. Bennett, where he criticized her portrayal of characters in Jacob's Room. The shift has to do with the author's relationship to the character, as well as the reader's relationship with the work. It is established power dynamics turned on their heads. a She gives a very specific date when this change occurred. December 10, 1919. She writes that everyone has an innate wisdom about character, but writers have particular interest in it.

Woolf uses an anecdote to illustrate her point about the change in fiction writing. The story begins when she interrupts a conversation in a train care between two people, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly finds Mrs. Brown intriguing, indeed she says each of her novels start with a proverbial old lady sitting in the corner. Mr Smith seems to be threatening Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly imagines all sorts of stories about the woman in all sorts of situation. She imagines what Mrs. Brown's children do, how Mrs. Brown relates to her husband. But the way one see's Mrs. Brown is subjective. It hinges on such variables as age, country , and temperament of the writer, as well as the audience. So who is to say what type of portrayal is real?

Differences in how Mrs. Brown is translated on paper are what differentiate the Edwardian's and the Georgians. Mr. Bennett insists that characters much be real, or a novel is doomed from the start. This he states is what's missing from the writing of the young Georgians. But Woolf insists that something is missing from the Edwardian's writing, humanity. To describe Mrs. Brown the would tell the reader about her clothes, the railway car, and the death of her mother. The novel would create a structure in-which the reader is meant to deduce who exactly the character is. Mr. Bennet doesn't see Mrs. Brown.

Neither though, is the writing of the Edwardian's perfect. She writes that there is a meloncholy about it compared with works that came before. It suffers without a definite code on how it is supposed to interact with the reader. In reaction to the complicated etiquette in the works of the previous generations, writers break the rules. Woolf does not like it when rules are flamboyantly broken. She comments on the indecency of a man who feel "he must break the windows to breath. (209) If it takes too much effort to get to the truth about Mrs.Brown then it is no longer the truth. In conclusion she writes that this shift in literature hedges on being attentive to characters and never abandoning Mrs. Brown.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Notes on the First Half of "Jacob's Room"

The first half of this story left me with more questions and confusion than conclusions. I found the text hard to follow. One issue was in the beginning of the book, while Jacob was a child almost every character is referred to as Mr. and Mrs., this makes it very difficult to keep track of them. This gripe actually brings up another issue, the sheer amount of characters, with the exception of Jacob and Tim it is rare that we follow one for more than a page or two. Thirdly, the sudden shifts in setting and character focus throw me off. For example in chapter three, I was almost finished before I figured out that they were actually on a boat, not on the shore looking at the ocean, or in a dorm room talking and thinking about boats. Then by the time I figured that out Jacob was putting on his dinner jacket to eat with the Durrants.

Despite the confusing aspects though, some themes or motifs do seem to be emerging. One is of the sun, the text is littered with descriptions of sunlight. Whether it is the particular colors of the light or a setting sun. I'm not sure if certain sunlight conditions tend to go with particular events or moods in the story, but it is something I will be keeping an eye on. Another motif I saw is the ocean representing melancholy or sadness. There were also a lot of mentions of Shakespeare with the discussion of ocean water, I'm not sure how the go together though.

One more thing a noticed was a slight alluding to affairs between certain characters. First between Mrs. Flanders and Captain Barfoot. I only got this idea because the text suggest that Mrs Barfoot did not like that her husband was visiting Mrs. Flanders to say goodbye. "Mrs Barfoot knew that Captain Barfoot was on his way to Mrs Flanders."(17) If it were "Flanders'" that would suggest that he was visiting the woman's home, not the woman herself. To me this suggest a romantic relationship. The second instance of the is between Jacob and the mother of his friend Tim "thinking of Jacob, thinking he must not say that he loves her, no no no."(46) I could be way off base, that's just the idea I gathered from the text.