Sample Questions

1) "What is distinctive about Woolf’s narrative method, and how does she use it to propound the views of Modernism?"

Describe the way that Woolf gives us insight into her characters – through the use of several interrelating interior monologues.

Traditionally, how does the narrative voice work? – It guides the reader through the text, helping us to make decisions. Woolf does not give us this help.

Woolf believed that writing and the narrative style should reflect the variety and complexity of everyday life. She praised Joyce for his attempts to do this in Ulysses: "Mr Joyce…is concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that inmost flame which flashes its message through the brain."

Look at her narrative style for its cinematic aspects, the way she zooms in and out, focussing on one person and then on another, she uses her characters as cameras to look at one another. Consider the aeroplane episode.

Compare the internal and external narrative style. It is possible for a writer to write herself out of the novel completely? If not, when do we see glimpses of Woolf’s own voice coming through?

2) "Mrs Dalloway is a psychological treatise on the interaction of the individual conscience with the world around it. Discuss."

Look at the way that Woolf describes the working of the mind through the language she uses. Lacan states that the unconscious is structured like a language. We cannot have thoughts without putting them into language. How does Woolf manage to transmit the feelings of his characters through the language that she uses?

Has Woolf found the female voice: a tone that is more poetic, circular and intuitive than the masculine voice? Does this help her in her attempt to give life to the world around the characters in the novel?

Discuss the use of London as a setting (see above) and the ways in which the outside world reflects or fails to reflect the inside world of her characters. Contrast this with the Victorian notion of the ‘Pathetic Fallacy’. Does Woolf use an anti-Pathetic Fallacy? Is the world around her characters cruelly unsympathetic to the tragedy of their lives?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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