Experimentation and Point of View in Mrs Dalloway

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The main purpose of the following work is to analyze two pieces of modernist literature “Mrs Dalloway”, by Virginia Woolf and “The Short Happy Life of Francis McComber” by Ernest Hemingway in the light of point of view and experimentation. Both stories are important references to the movement they belong to, and share the same modernist characteristics. It is possible to say that they both break with traditional narrative features by going into the minds of the characters and including new writing techniques such as different points of view and a stream of consciousness.

To begin with, it is necessary to explain that Modernism originates in the early 20th centuries and it is characterized by a break with traditional structural and narratives norms and rules for the novels. One important aspect of modernist novels is the lack of traditional chronological order which can be seen in both works. At the beginning of Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa leaves her house and time shifts as she has a memory from her past.

“For so it had always seemed to her when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French window and plunged at Bourton into the open air” (Mrs Dalloway, page 3)

After she had entered St. James’s Park, Clarissa meets Hugh Whitbread, a friend of her youth. This casual meeting leads Clarissa’s thoughts back to her past again.

“She could remember scene after scene at Bourton – Peter furious, Hugh not, of course, his match in any way, but still not positive imbecile as Peter made out (…)” (Mrs Dalloway, page 5)

In The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber there are also some flashback which take the reader straight to the past, resulting in a non-chronologically written story as well.

“ It had started the night before when he had wakened and heard the lion roaring somewhere up along the river.” ( The short happy life of Francis Macomber, page 6)

Modernism writers tend to play with narrative points...
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