In her novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses a blended narration. She employs a third-person narrator, but through that narrator, she also offers a stream of consciousness that relates Clarissa Dalloway's thoughts, feelings, and reactions in a running flow. The narrator both looks at Clarissa from the outside and...
In her novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses a blended narration. She employs a third-person narrator, but through that narrator, she also offers a stream of consciousness that relates Clarissa Dalloway's thoughts, feelings, and reactions in a running flow. The narrator both looks at Clarissa from the outside and has access to the depths of her psyche. Let's look at some examples of how this works.
The very first sentence of the novel announces, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." This statement by the third-person narrator looks at Clarissa from the outside and describes something that she said that everyone could hear.
The very next paragraph, however, plunges readers directly into Clarissa's own thoughts about Lucy having "her work cut out for her," the doors and their hinges, Rumpelmayer's men coming, and the freshness of the morning. It is a jumble of reflections very much like what all of us would find if we stopped for a moment to pay attention to exactly what we are thinking.
Yet this stream of consciousness is not completely in Clarissa's own voice. Consider the novel's third paragraph. It begins with Clarissa's thoughts, "What a lark! What a plunge!" But then the narrator inserts a comment that it has always seemed such to Clarissa and a description of her bursting open the windows. The stream of consciousness then resumes with next sentence as Clarissa muses on the freshness of the air, the waves, the flowers and trees, Peter Walsh, and an odd quotation about preferring men to cauliflower. Again, this is a classic stream of consciousness with its random, free-flowing narration, yet is not relayed in the first person.
The very next paragraph, then, moves firmly back to the third-person narrator, who describes Clarissa as sitting on the curb and notes that Scrope Purvis considers her to be a charming woman.
Note that the stream-of-consciousness sections of the narrative tend to be long and winding with extra long, rather rambling sentences, digressions, questions, and even some unusual syntax. Again, this mirrors (or at least attempts to mirror) a person's actual sequence of thoughts.