Modern British Fiction has certain aspects that make it 'modern.'  Explain these aspects in 1500 words, and take Mrs. Dalloway as example. When you answer, please try to explain every point with...

Modern British Fiction has certain aspects that make it 'modern.'  Explain these aspects in 1500 words, and take Mrs. Dalloway as example. When you answer, please try to explain every point with an example from Mrs.Dalloway.  The important aspects are:  war, love or relationships, social class, communication, political commentary.

 

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ecofan74 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Modernist literature, particularly the texts of British writers, exhibit certain characteristics that make them "modern."  One of the most important of these is the use of innovative forms of narrative.  Writers who made great use of this are James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.    Some of these innovations include stream-of-consciousness and the use of internal monologue, as well as the exploration of certain themes such as alienation and paralysis.  Much of what modern writers wanted to do was to challenge the status quo.  They experimented with different narrative forms and they often made direct comments on the society of their day.  The two world wars, and the disillusionment it bred among the literary community, often come to the fore in modernist writing.

In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf's protagonist Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway finds herself questioning the nature of love, particularly the love between her daugher and her daughter's husband.  Upon meeting Peter again, she begins to question her own decisions regarding her marriage.  She marries Richard Dalloway out of a need to feel secure, both socially and financially.  Her uneasiness is certainly connected with larger modernist concerns, specifically the nature of social norms.  The society of Mrs. Dalloway, and one could argue the 1920s in Britain as a whole, was predicated on social standing and the holding of wealth, both of which often usurped love and relationships.  Mrs. Dalloway's questioning of social norms mirrors Woolf's calling British social norms in question.

The character of Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the Great War, commits suicide on the night of Mrs. Dalloway's party, clearly as a result of the trauma he suffered during the war.  In this example, Mrs. Dalloway, in its negative presentation of the war, seeks to make a comment about the senselessness and waste of the war.  It is a waste of human life.  Though the war has not literally taken Smith's life, it has still robbed him of any chance of life after the end of the war.  This negative depiction of the Great War runs throughout modernist literature.  Perhaps the most famous example of this is Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (1929).

The whole novel spans the spectrum of modernist social concerns.  At its very core, modernism sought to make comment about the nature of society - its antiquated views on social class and love and the senselessness of war and the society that goes along with it.

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