Modernism implies a break from the tradition. It refers to some sort of discontinuity, treating characters as 'thinking' individuals, emphasizing the unconscious rather than the outer, visible self; plot is more of a collection of incidents and their effect on the individual than the advance towards crisis and its resolution; imagination and internal thought processes form the substance of the literary work characterised as 'modern'. Mrs.Dalloway is a modern novel which embodies the vision that Virginia Woolf sets out in her essay, 'Modern Novels', and conforms to that ideal in almost every respect, that
...if one were free and could set down what one chose, there would be no plot, little probability, and a vague general confusion in which the clear-cut features of the tragic, the comic, the passionate, and the lyrical were dissolved beyond the possibility of separate recognition? The mind, exposed to the ordinary course of life, receives upon its surface a myriad impressions--trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel...suggesting that the proper stuff for fiction is a little other than custom would have us believe it.
Clarissa Dalloway is throwing a party. Her thoughts, remembrances, and impressions, along with the thoughts of other characters, form the 'action' of the novel. Confined to a single day in London, this is a modern novel for it has no action in the traditional sense- of building up a crisis and its resolution, of intermingling of various plots and sub-plots, just a presentation of two-three narrative threads progressing though the passage of a single day; it has an open form, the ending being inconclusive; no linearity of the story, characters feeling, experiencing and thinking, rather than acting. The sense of action is provided by the passage of time, heralded by clocks chiming and BigBen striking, towards the actual party, as well as the build-up to and the suicide committed by Septimus. The action is internalised in the thoughts and impressions received by the characters. Unlike the traditional works, this novel has also no story to tell. It is a coherent collection of 'myriad impressions', all brought together by Woolf to have her say about what she thinks about all these things through the medium of her characters, though they appear alive and thinking in their own rights. There is also no conclusive ending to the novel. The ending is such that it could be taken as a beginning to another such collection of thoughts.
'What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.'
Mrs. Dalloway is one of the many novels under the genre of modernist literature. Modernist literature was filled with new types of writing techniques including; flashback, multiple point of view or multiple narration, a new use of the metaphor, a stream of consciousness, and pessimism instead of optimism.
Flashback (also called analepsis, plural analepses) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory. Character origin flashbacks specifically refers to flashbacks dealing with key events early in a character's development. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. The technique is used to create suspense in a story, or develop a character. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to before the narrative started.
Virginia Woolf plays on time and space by keeping the reading standing still in both aspects. By manipulating time and space Virginia Woolf makes the reader feel as if they are standing still in both...
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