In The Hours, the section about Mrs. Brown contains a long passage describing her efforts to bake a cake. How does the cake function as a metaphor?
This cake represents the surface perfection of an idealized domestic life. Since Mrs. Brown is experiencing a crisis of sexual identity, and no longer feels comfortable in her marriage, the cake represents her efforts to maintain the appearance of a "normal" life and an idealized domestic relationship. But she fails and has to start again. This represents her inner turmoil, as she wishes to reject the idea of being untrue to herself, but is fearful that if she lets her real desires show, she will hurt her family and be judged harshly by others. The cake is a metaphor of a life that is all surface impressions: the "icing on the cake" is her perfect marriage and life, but underneath the cake is flawed and not as "sweet" or perfect as it seems.