Fiction and Novel Mrs Dalloway

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“How have Virginia Woolf in Mrs Dalloway and Michael Cunningham in The Hours manipulated form to develop the characterisation of Mrs Dalloway in their respective novels?”

Name: Nelissa Nezamuthdeen
Candidate Number: 002592 – 011
Subject: English A1
Word Count: 3892

Abstract

300 words

The purpose of my extended essay is to compare and contrast certain aspects of literary form employed in two novels which are closely linked, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Hours by Michael Cunningham. The way these authors have chosen to employ various aspects of literary form will be explored in order to see how each author has characterised Mrs Dalloway. The investigation was undertaken through a close reading of each of the target texts, as well as through the consultation of secondary sources, including texts which discuss notions of literary form and sources which critique both of the novels.

Through my background research when trying to settle on a topic for my Extended Essay I found myself developing a strong appreciation for Virginia Woolf’s works. I realised that I was particularly interested in the way she was described as making influential breakthroughs in the use of literary form and decided that I would enjoy the opportunity to explore this in order to enhance my own understanding, both of her work and of this aspect of it. It was my hope that my investigation would highlight the aspect of literary form and it is for that reason that I decided to look at Mrs Dalloway in conjunction with a novel which shares a strong link with it, Cunningham’s The Hours.

The investigation has found that through the utilisation of the overall structure of each novel, as well as the use of individual techniques, including the overall structure, the use of shifting perspective, the use of flashbacks and stream of consciousness writing, the character of Mrs Dalloway has been developed. Finally it can be concluded that the notion of “organic” form is more important in the writing of Mrs Dalloway while elements of “conventional” form characterise the writing of The Hours.

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people for their guidance, support and effort offered in completion of the essay:

Mrs. Jennifer Sanders (Extended Essay Supervisor and English teacher at the Australian International School Hong Kong)

Mrs. Sue Smith (The English Consultant from International Tutorial School)

Contents Page

I. Title Page..........................................................................................1 II. Abstract............................................................................................2 III. Acknowledgements..........................................................................3 IV. Contents Page...................................................................................4 V. Introduction......................................................................................5 VI. Body.................................................................................................5 - 13 VII. Conclusion........................................................................................13-14 VIII. Bibliography.....................................................................................15

In literary terms, content is understood to mean what is said in a literary work and form is the way in which it is said or presented. The overall form of the work comprises its organisation into chapters, including its beginning and ending. On a more specific level, form can be taken to mean the line-by-line decisions about the way words are used. [1] William Harmon has discussed form as “the organisation of the elementary parts of a work of art in relation to its total effect.” [2] Harmon has...
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