Stylistic Analysis of Virginia Woolf's Short Story "The Lady in the Looking Glass: a Reflection"

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Virginia Woolf's short story "The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection", is the sad self portrait of a woman whose character is examined both from outside and in, and found to be unsatisfactory. In her examination, Woolf uses modern features of theme and style. These features employ modern ideas of narration and character to illustrate a fuller, more complete picture of the character than is possible using only traditional techniques of narration. Woolf also advocates in this story the usage of the stream-of-consciousness technique. The first question which must be asked, and which will subsequently bring us to greater understanding of the story, is the question of the identity of the lady in the looking glass. The story calls her Isabella Tyson, but certain clues lead one to believe she may be someone else. The story uses a looking glass as a metaphor for the lady's character, which we will presently discuss in more depth. The title and subtitle of the piece indicate that the story is a means of examining a lady via her reflection in a looking glass. One does not use a looking glass to examine another person. One uses a looking glass to examine one's self. Thus we may now give a new name to the lady in the looking glass: Virginia Woolf. The story then becomes Woolf's attempt to examine her own character through the vehicle of modern narrative techniques. However, to understand the true beauty of Woolf's execution of this, we must examine her use of modern styles and themes more in depth. The strongest theme in this story is the distinctly modern theme of the split self. Here we see one figure with many levels of character. This theme is accentuated through the metaphor of the looking glass. The first picture we receive in the story is the contrast between the interior of the house and its exterior as seen through the looking glass. The interior is a world of movement. It is portrayed as a dynamic environment that is constantly in a state of flux from one...
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