Monday, September 28, 2015

A Brief Analysis of Hemingway's Writing Style

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway offers characters more relatable than those in Mrs. Dalloway. I enjoy learning about their lives and I find what they have to say intriguing. My one complaint however, is that I often don’t know who is talking. Hemingway likes to convey lengthy conversations between characters in short prose as if we were watching the conversation rather than narrating it to us. I find myself rereading these conversations to try to determine who is saying what. It’s almost as if I am reading a play, except the names of the characters have been removed. This perpetual state of confusion reminds me of reading the free indict discourse of Mrs. Dalloway. Switching between characters’ viewpoints and rapidly switching who is talking are really not all that different. I think the reason for this ambiguity goes back to Virginia Woolf’s belief that modern fiction novels should focus on the characters. Her free indirect discourse allowed us to get a substantial picture of the characters in a way we are not accustomed to. Hemingway does the same thing by inserting us into his character’s conversations. Although it can be confusing, the feeling of being a bystander to a conversation allows us as readers to experience the characters’ thoughts and feelings being relayed first hand as opposed to relying on Jake to narrate. On a similar note, having Jake narrate events in the story helps us learn more about him as a character because his retelling shows his biases and opinions of others.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mrs. Dalloway’s Film Debut

The movie The Hours was a fresh take on the book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. While I didn’t really like the movie, I thought it did a good job of presenting the essentials of Mrs. Dalloway in a movie format. One thing I noticed was that each character in the movie was not strictly assigned to one corresponding character from Mrs. Dalloway; they all embodied different traits of several characters from the novel. There were obvious connections like Clarissa and Sally in the 2001 time period representing Clarissa and Sally from the book, but there were also more subtle connections, such as Richard in the 2001 time period embodying both Richard Dalloway and Septimus Smith. At one point in the movie, I felt like all the characters could identify with Septimus Smith. If anything, I would have liked for there to be a Miss Kilman character in the 2001 time period and to see the dynamics between her, Clarissa and Julia (Elizabeth).

My favorite part of the movie was how it captured Woolf’s style of free indirect discourse. In a movie without a narrator it is obviously impossible to switch between character’s viewpoints, but I think switching between time periods and having the period plots converge at the end achieved a similar effect. I also enjoyed Virgina Woolf’s story line and I learned a lot about her and her circumstances, which helped me to better reflect on the novel.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What's In a Name?

Freshman year when we read The Great Gatsby, we discussed how Nick Carroway’s name was a metaphor for his carefree lifestyle when he was with Gatsby. I think the idea of using a name as a metaphor can be applied to characters in Mrs. Dalloway, namely Clarissa Dalloway and Miss Kilman.

Might "Dalloway" be a metaphor for how Miss Kilman thinks Clarissa is dallying her life away? Miss Kilman disapproves of Mrs. Dalloway’s partying lifestyle and feels that her life is void and that she is letting it “trifle away" (p.122). Similarly, the name Kilman can be taken as a metaphor for how Clarissa feels Miss Kilman is killing the relationship she has with her daughter Elizabeth by spending an enormous amount of time with her and encouraging her to be religious.

Miss Kilman and Mrs. Dalloway are complete opposites of each other in terms of their values. For example, Clarissa is an atheist and Miss Kilman is very religious. These two contradictory characters’ names reflect their unflattering views of each other. Perhaps Virginia Woolf was trying to make the point that we judge those who are different or don’t agree with our values.