Based on the movie The Hours, answer the following question. Each of the novel’s three principal women, even the relatively prosaic and down-to-earth Clarissa, occasionally feels a sense of detachment, of playing a role. Laura feels as if she is “about to go onstage and perform in a play for which she has not adequately rehearsed.” Clarissa is filled with a sense of dislocation. Is this feeling a universal one? Is role-playing an essential part of living in the world and of behaving “sanely”? Which of the characters refuses to act a role, and what price does he/she pay for this refusal?

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The 2002 film The Hours , directed by Stephen Daldry and based on the 1998 novel by Michael Cunningham, tells three seemingly disparate stories about three very different women living in three very different eras, and then it connects their lives through the one physical thing they share in common:...

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The 2002 film The Hours, directed by Stephen Daldry and based on the 1998 novel by Michael Cunningham, tells three seemingly disparate stories about three very different women living in three very different eras, and then it connects their lives through the one physical thing they share in common: Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. Other, less tangible things that they share in common include the burdens of domesticity and the strictures placed on lives due to gender, depression, and queer identity.

All of them experience a malaise that is rooted in something they cannot clearly name—your term "dislocation" may come closest in describing it. That feeling is a universal one but not one that is felt by everyone in the same way. The sense of dislocation that these three women feel is rooted in their gender experience but also defined by other aspects of their beings. They are all also of the middle class and white and, therefore, would not have the same sense of dislocation as other women who do not fit into these categories.

Though frustrated with their circumstances, they play their respective roles—for a time, anyway. Clarissa, like Mrs. Dalloway, busies herself with the routines of domesticity and social niceties to distract herself from her unhappiness. Her dearest friend, Richard Brown, nicknames her "Mrs. Dalloway" to point out this aspect of her character. When Clarissa realizes that the parties aren't enough to keep her happy, she admits to another friend—Richard's former lover—that she is "unraveling." Her meeting with Laura, Richard's mother, becomes a saving grace. Laura abandoned her husband and children in the 1950s, refusing to cater to that era's vision of ideal femininity in favor of self-fulfillment, which meant going to Vancouver and becoming a librarian. Laura's act might normally be read as insane or, at the very least, incredibly selfish. However, her roles as wife and mother were foisted on to her by the expectations of her time. Arguably, her acceptance of a fate that she didn't choose would have been more "insane."

Laura is one of the characters who refused to play a role, and it cost her her family. Virginia Woolf, the creator of Mrs. Dalloway, refused to carry on in the midst of yet another world war, pretending to take interest in such menial matters as planning meals and directing servants as her mental health eroded further.

Woolf's suicide is the worst-case scenario of what can result from the refusal to play a role. Laura's choice resulted in possible loneliness. The film's denouement offers some hope, however, through Clarissa, who, we are led to believe, will stop distracting herself with frivolousness in favor of experiencing all that life has to offer, particularly with her true thoughts and feelings.

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