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An Introduction to Mrs. Dalloway

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An Introduction to Mrs. Dalloway

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1. Introduction
Mrs Dalloway, published in 1925, is widely accepted as a major work of 20 th century English literature, because it introduced new stylistic approaches to writing and set basic aesthetic standards for the further development of literary modernism, thereby establishing Virginia Woolf as its leading female representative. Besides, the novel offers a subtle insight into the atmosphere in postwar London society, which was characterized by a feeling of overall destabilization and increasing isolation. Due to various causes, Great Britain’s political, economic, and social spheres had undergone fundamental changes during the previous decades: the rapidly increasing industrialization had completely transformed the working sphere, caused high unemployment rates and further fragmented class divisions, which culminated waves of political and social unrest; revolutionary findings in the natural and medical sciences put the traditional view of man into question and brought about a crisis of faith; beyond, the recent experience of the First World War and its aftermaths added considerably to an ‘atmosphere of gloom and doom’ in Great Britain. Altogether, the loss of belief into progress, the rise of scientific knowledge and the decay of traditional moral values resulted in a ‘disenchanted’ world view; the individual suffered from the growing atmosphere of coldness in society; he was “more isolated than ever before because he [could not] come in under an umbrella of common social forms, and thus escape from his sense of isolation” (Marder 64). Victorian guiding lines offered no adequate solutions for the demands of modern society anymore, and Virginia Woolf “was in accord with many of her contemporaries in rejecting Victorian values. The social code, she felt, had degenerated in most cases into mere formalism. She regarded Victorian morality as unrealistic and suspected those who professed it of hypocrisy” (Marder 47). Furthermore, her living at “a time when...

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