Mrs Dalloway

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Woolf uses London as a frame through which ‘broken images’ are heaped together. Discuss the importance of this frame.

London is the place to be, especially during the 1920’s where the novel Mrs Dalloway was set. Written by modern novelist Virginia Woolf, she knew the ins and outs of London life during this important period. According to critic John Crawford, this novel highlights the many ‘implications of modern civilisation’ during life in London; in “this moment of June”. The setting of London appears very often in the book, as a reminder to the reader where the novel is set. However, it is classed as a frame in which broken images are heaped together because it is a way that aids the characters to recollect their memories of the past by being in certain parts of London. For instance, the walk Clarissa takes from Westminster, where she lives, to St. James’ park. Both places give off a different idea about life; Westminster reflects many upper-middle class people with strong view points and a sense of control of others. Whereas St James’ park suggests almost the opposite; calm, peacefulness and royalty, because it is near Buckingham palace, which also shows a type of overruling but in a different way to Westminster. As Clarissa comes into the park, she begins to reminisce about Peter, “If he were with me now what would he say?” London brings about memories from the past, both good and bad, but it all depends on the atmosphere of the place that the character is in. As Clarissa is in a park near Buckingham palace, she remembers the nice memories, which influences her love for “walking in London”. All the broken images of her past seem to reassemble as she visits places in London, making London an important the frame for the novel.

The frame which London creates in the novel forms a stable structure for the different emotions of the characters. As Septimus passes Harley Street, his mood changes. Harley Street is the location that all doctors and medical...
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