How does the film The Hours mirror the ideas and form of Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway?

The Hours mirrors Mrs. Dalloway in its interest in characters' inner lives and its single-day plot structures.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Hours is a 2002 film adaptation (by playwright David Hare) of Michael Cunningham's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The film and book are both inspired by Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway and by the life of Woolf, which ended with her suicide in the River Ouse. The film takes place in three different time periods and places, one of which is England in the 1920s when Woolf is writing the novel.

Woolf's novel takes place on one day and is largely about the title character planning and throwing a party. The parallel to this in the film is that Meryl Streep's character, Clarissa, who is throwing a party for her poet friend (Ed Harris), who is dying of AIDS. In another sequence, Julianne Moore plays a repressed housewife in the 1950s who reads Mrs. Dalloway. Both of these women can be viewed as more modern counterparts to Clarissa Dalloway, the protagonist of Woolf's novel. At a formal level, all three of the film's narrative threads unfold during a single day, mirroring the novel's one-day plot. Moreover, the film's intimate scenes—many of which are light on dialogue—mirror the novel's focus on its central characters' inner lives.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team