What narrative techniques are significant in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway?
Mrs Dalloway utlizes a third person narrator who is “omniscient” in the sense that the narrator has access, to some degree, to the thoughts of all the characters. The novel also employs what is known as “free indirect style,” where the third person narrator speaks from the point of view of a particular character while maintaining the use of third-person pronouns. Woolf is not alone in using these methods—we can see much the same technique at work in Jane Austen’s novels, for example. Woolf’s innovation was in the rapid (and fairly explicit) shifting of point of view between characters, often without reference to conventional narrative markers (like time and place). Woolf also used what was known as “stream of consciousness,” or the attempt to present as accurately as possible the actual thought processes of a character. The “story” of Mrs Dalloway consists of the mundane events of a single day—Mrs Dalloway’s trip to buy flowers—but the real subject matter is...
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