Modernism in Virginia Wolf's Novel Mrs Dalloway

Categories: Novel

The First World War was known as the Great War, it was an international conflict between Russia, the United States, the Middle East and other regions, engulfed most of Europe's nations in 1914-18. World War I changed the content and form of English literary texts, as many modernists in this time were concerned about civilization in which the war was supposed to help maintain and to improve the way of thinking. There were many fears of cultural and civil degradation that being the main theme of this time's literary pieces.

Modernism was an attempt to find new ways to generate experience and identity, ways to take priority the individual and the inner mind, and to push language and form boundaries to its limits. The focus was on experimentation and novelty, and the abandonment of the fixed point of view, driven by unrest with regard to 19th-century realism's traditional structures. Modernism was the most effective literary movement in England and America during the first half of the twentieth century because Modernism considered as a distinctive separation from Victorian morality of optimism, it appeared during the period after World War One so it made a radical shift in art and literature styles after the World war.

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In spite of the fact that modernism is known best for its literary works, because it had a great change in the sciences, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, painting, music, sculpture, and architecture. Modernism generated the feelings of lost community and civilization. This movement generated the concept of "the lost generation".

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A lot of characteristics of modernism has been spread such as Alienation, Negativism, Ambiguity, and glorification due to the World war. Modernist writers believed the traditional social, religious, and political order had collapsed. Economically, the last stage of the British Empire's disintegration was the World War. Britain suffered severe war losses: thousands were killed; the economy was ruined; and nearly all of its former colonies were lost. Economic and cultural issues faced people. Ideologically, the rise of irrational philosophy and new science greatly encouraged modern writers to explore human natures and relationships in a new way. One of the most famous writers in the modernism period was" Virginia Wolf", Virginia Woolf tried to explain what was new about "modern" fiction during the heyday of literary modernism in 1924. She wrote that while all fiction was trying to express human character, as a modern fiction to be used to describe the human character in a new way "human character was changing."

Mrs. Dalloway may be best known for the use of the stream-of-consciousness narrative by Woolf, influenced in particular by James Joyce's Ulysses. Many critics believe Woolf found her voice in writing this novel, which she further refined in her subsequent novels. Her style was a reaction to the linear and deterministic narrative style of much-popular Victorian literature. Like many other Modernist authors who wrote after World War I, Woolf felt that such a style did not really portray life as the disjointed mess it was. She drew to develop round, dynamic characters from both Joyce's and Marcel Proust's understanding of time and psychology that convincingly expressed the reality of their existence on the page.

Mrs Dalloway

Novel has discussed a lot of themes related to modernism, the first theme that discussed through the novel is the "theme of Isolation" as we can see almost each character in Mrs. Dalloway feels confined in a few way. In spite of the fact that numerous of them are bound by convention, lesson, history, cherish of realm, or survival of injury, they still feel exceptionally alone within the world. Woolf employments allegories of string and angle swimming in water to demonstrate how free the associations between individuals are. Individuals see each other as objects, not as subjects; they think approximately others but don't essentially communicate with them - even though they're frantic to. Characters appear to need the correct dialect to have significant trades. Clarissa's spouse, who adores her exceptionally much, finds himself unable of indeed saying "I adore you," and must utilize blooms to send the message. Clarissa's parties point to bring individuals together but truly ended up gatherings of a bunch of separated people. The confinement that people feel all through Mrs. Dalloway brings with it profound sentiments of fear - that the complete world is against them. Within the conclusion, Clarissa feels more of an association to Septim. This issue has emerged because of the World war as it generated a sense of fear from each other, which led to a sense of comfort in isolation from others due to the lack of trust between people as everyone is looking for his personal interest even if it is at the expense of someone's life.

There Is a quote saying: "Septimus Warren Smith, aged about thirty, pale-faced, beak-nosed, wearing brown shoes and a shabby overcoat, with hazel eyes which had that look of apprehension in them which makes complete strangers apprehensive too. The world has raised its whip; where will it descend?", this quote is showing how the fear is showing on Septimus's face as he is feeling afraid from the people around him even if he doesn't know them which lead them to feel afraid from him too as he feels isolation is the better solution for him after what he saw and has been through the World war.

There is another quote saying:"Septimus, lately taken from life to death, the Lord who had come to renew society, who lay like a coverlet, a snow blanket smitten only by the sun, forever unwanted, suffering forever, the scapegoat, the eternal sufferer, but he did not want it, he moaned, putting from him with a wave of his hand that eternal suffering, that eternal loneliness." Septimus was imagining himself as a savior figure send from God to share a message even if it will expense his pain and suffer. Maybe he was right because his death will be a lesson to clarissa his point of view.

Second Theme has been discussed through the novel is "Theme of Warfare", whereas on the one hand there's the main target on Mrs. Dalloway's domestic life and her 'party consciousness', on the opposite there are a unit concepts of masculinity and "patriotic zeal that stupefy march boys into a stiff nevertheless staring body and perniciously unselfish doctors" , and also the sense of war reverberates within the entire text. Woolf's treatment of the nice War is totally different from the normative approach within which the War is talked regarding within the post warfare I texts. She includes in her text no 1st hand glimpse of parcel of land, instead provides a detached description. This makes it a lot of incisive as a result of she delineates the when effects in personal normal lives. it was one of the most important themes in the novel because it showed how the world war impact everything around the people, there was a very important point regarding this that no genuine fighting takes a place. All we see is the repercussions - the injury and the shell-shock, the swells of harm to those who survived.

The war had been over for five years when Mrs. Dalloway took a place, however everybody is still affected by it. Numerous individuals had championed the war as a way to maintain the beliefs of the British Domain and a way to create men out of boys. But with all of the missing life, the feeling that the war was battled for all of the beliefs of Britain becomes somehow crazy. Septimus is the most harmed person as he lost his good friend and Officer Evans, which has impacted him emotionally and mentally, as all what he was thinking of how his soldiers enter a war as Heroes and in minute they can come back as defeated. The theme of warfare has impacted the life of people as they are just living there life with soul as their souls has been died in the war when they saw their friends and their soldiers dead in front of their eye. They will always feel shame that they returned back as losers not heroes holding their friends dead bodies.

As per the Quote related to the theme warfare: "The War was over, except for someone like Mrs Foxcroft at the Embassy last night eating her heart out because that nice boy was killed and now the old Manor House must go to a cousin; or Lady Bexborough who opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in her hand, John, her favourite, killed; but it was over; thank Heaven - over. "This quote is showing how hard the world war was, yes it has been ended, and people started to live their life again however the feeling of pain is still there in their heart. Mothers are still feeling the pain of the loss of their sons. This quote is showing a contrast between the calm in the city and the pain the people's heart.

There is another quote: "He sang. Evans answered from behind the tree. The dead were in Thessaly, Evans sang, among the orchids. There they waited till the War was over, and now the dead, now Evans himself", this quote showed how hard the situation of Evans's Death on Septimus as he lost his good friend and officer in the war which impacted him with a hard psychological impact.

Finally Modernism established within the thought that the "traditional" shapes of art had gotten to be obsolete, which it was in this manner basic to move it aside and grasp and acknowledge alter. Innovation rejected convention and proposed a return to the basics of craftsmanship that permits artists to try with color and frame beside an opportunity of expression. Innovation debilitates all earlier hypotheses with respect to the presence of objective reality and utilize of reason as a proposal to pick up it. Modernism's extraordinary central point on subjectivity driven to a pensive age in craftsmanship, writing, reasoning, and orderly consider.

Modernism had a great impact on the Society as numerous modernists accepted that by dismissing tradition they can find other ways of making art. As Arnold Schoenberg accepted that by dismissing traditional tonal agreement, the various leveled system of organizing works of music which had guided music-making for at slightest a century and a half, and maybe longer, he had found a entirely better approach of organizing sound, based on the utilize of 12-note columns. This driven to what is known as serial music by the post-war period.

Some Modernists in literature looked for to oppose desires basically in arrange to form their craftsmanship more distinctive, or to drive the gathering of people to require the inconvenience to address their claim previously established inclinations. This viewpoint of Innovation has regularly appeared a response to consumer culture, which created in Europe and North America within the late-nineteenth century. Modernism was a significant period in English literature that brought a huge change in the way of writing all over the world that made the people think more about themselves than on the world.

As we know that the modernism has been appeared after the First World War, it was an innovation for people to see that everything around started to change and their future has a different phase. Most of Modernist started to concrete on themselves in their writing as they started to write about their inner self and their needs. It will always be a great point of change in every modernists as the themes fears of cultural and civil degradation will be disappeared. The World war had impacted a lot of people mentally and emotionally, it left a huge pain in people's heart however at the end it impacted also the people in a positive way and manner as they started to see everything around them in a different image, they started to think in a different way, they decided to write about themselves more that writing about what they see around the world.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Modernism in Virginia Wolf's Novel Mrs Dalloway. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Modernism in Virginia Wolf's Novel Mrs Dalloway essay
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