In what ways does Clarissa Vaughan fear death in The Hours by Michael Cunningham? How does Clarissa represent a postmodernist evolved version of Clarissa Dalloway from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf?

Clarissa Vaughan fears death in part as a reaction to her friend Richard's illness and in part due to her concerns that she is a product of society rather than an individual with personal agency. This latter concern makes Vaughan a postmodern counterpart of Clarissa Dalloway, who similarly contemplates the compromises she has made.

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The Hours is a 1998 novel by American author Michael Cunningham. The novel is exemplary of postmodern literature in that it deals intertextually with with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway through three generations of women affected by the novel.

The Hours begins with Virginia Woolf’s declining mental health and suicide...

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The Hours is a 1998 novel by American author Michael Cunningham. The novel is exemplary of postmodern literature in that it deals intertextually with with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway through three generations of women affected by the novel.

The Hours begins with Virginia Woolf’s declining mental health and suicide by drowning. The latest narrative of the novel, chronologically speaking, occurs in contemporary New York City, where Clarissa Vaughan is planning to purchase flowers for a party she is hosting for her longtime friend and renowned poet Richard, who has won a literary award. Clarissa Vaughan is thus framed as a modern-day version of Clarissa Dalloway, the protagonist of Woolf’s novel.

Clarissa Vaughan contemplates death, in large part as a reaction to the declining physical and mental health of Richard, who is suffering from AIDS. Clarissa Vaughan fears death much in the same way that Clarissa Dalloway fears death: she does not want to live merely as a product of society, thereby losing all individual agency.

After Clarissa Vaughan’s partner leaves for a meeting with a film star, she questions her role as “just a wife,” which forces her to question the value of her life and compare it other possible lives.

Clarissa Vaughan reflects a postmodern version of Clarissa Dalloway; both women are concerned by their potential statuses as trivial products of society. Dalloway is stuck in a marriage she is unhappy in, because society dictates it. She is unable to pursue her one true love, a young woman she knew in her youth. Unlike Dalloway, Clarissa Vaughan is able to live as an openly gay woman, but she still feels constrained the the societally dictated power dynamics between partners.

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