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In Mrs. Dalloway, what are the main peculiarities of Woolf's style?

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user3521318 | Honors

Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM via web

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In Mrs. Dalloway, what are the main peculiarities of Woolf's style?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2013 at 6:35 AM (Answer #1)

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The main stylistic feature of Woolf's writing in this novel, and generally in her other texts, is the way that she uses a particular style of narration to express the thoughts and feelings of her characters, representing accurately the free association of their thoughts. Although the narrator is definitely external to the action, and the entire novel is written in the third person, the narrator captures the thoughts, emotions and feelings of her characters that it feels at times as if the reader is observing the very workings of their mind as they think and react to what is happening around them. Note the following example from the end of the book, when Clarissa reflects on the death of Septimus:

She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back. She must assemble.

Although the narrator is clearly external to the action, she writes in such a way that gives the reader access to the very thoughts and feelings of Clarissa as they occur. Here, she thinks about the way she and Septimus are alike, and the reader can see the admiration she feels for him and the way that he has maintained his purity by his act of suicide. She, however, has to face the party and "assemble" the shattered fragments of her life as best she can. This style is referred to by some critics as "represented thought and speech."

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