Compare The Hours by Stephen Daldry to Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many similarities between Daldry's The Hours and Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.

I think that one of the strongest similarities between both works is how both probe into human thought. Neither follows a strict plot. Rather, there is an intricate delving into what people believe and how they respond to their choices. In Woolf's novel, Clarissa's thoughts about the paths she has taken in her life guide the narrative. The reader is able to enter her thoughts and see how she reacts to these choices and decisions. Daldry's film follows this idea in the way it explores the actions and choices of three different women. Neither work shows this voyage through a strict plot sequence. Rather, they are presented through characters' inward reflections.

Woolf's Clarissa Dalloway and Daldry's Clarissa Vaughn are also shown in similar manners. Both are planning a party for other people. Both women place primacy on their planning, and this emphasis seeks to compensate for the emptiness that they feel. Another similarity between both Clarissas is their reaction to the suicide of another person. When she hears of Septimus's suicide, Clarissa is shaken to her emotional core, while Clarissa Vaughn must see Richard throw himself from a window. The impact of suicide on those left behind is another similarity between the worlds of Clarissa Dalloway and Clarissa Vaughn.

Both works are very emphatic about the need for individuals to confront unsettling elements in reality. I find that a significant comparison between both works is how they insist that people cannot flee from uncomfortable truths about being in the world. Woolf's work suggests that issues arising out of World War I and the shifting of social roles and definitions must be acknowledged. Daldry's work argues that issues of mental illness and the need for individual voices to be heard must be tantamount to what we do and how we live. Both works are insistent on the need to "look life in the face." While they delve into the inner thoughts of individuals, Woolf's novel and Daldry's film also insist that attention be paid to social issues that impact our identities and worlds.