Modernism: Mrs. Dalloway and Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Topics: Sociology, Mrs Dalloway, Modernism Pages: 4 (1242 words) Published: August 24, 2013
During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Modernist movement questioned the social, ideological and hierarchical paradigms of society. This movement is centred, as described by Marshall Berman, around the primary condition of "constant change." Such as the aftermath of the war, new technologies, the rise of unions, feminism and the self-made man. This theory of the condition of Modernism is explored through Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs Dalloway, and Rhapsody on a Windy Night by T.S Eliot. Within these texts, the reader is positioned to question the consequences of the rigid class system when faced with an evolving world, where social pleasantries come at the expense of emotional wellbeing and, the individual’s awareness of "constant change" in terms of the passing of time and the implications of understanding one’s own mortality.

Woolf’s novel Mrs Dalloway considers the determents of strict social systems within society. A.D. Moody describes in, Virginia Woolf, the impulse of the upper class to "turn away from the disturbing depths of feeling, and towards a conventional pleasantness." Woolf satirically idealises Lady Bexborough who “opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in her hand, John, her favourite, killed." This repression of emotion, is inbuilt into upper class culture, is questioned as it faces a changing world which presents new situations which rely on emotional connection. Septimus, as a result of his upbringing, values his reaction to Even's death, "congratulat[ing] himself upon feeling very little and very reasonably." The reader is then positioned, through a repetition of "desperation," to sympathise and recognise the detriments to Septimus' mental health as a result of this emotional disconnection. Sir William Bradshaw embodies this hierarchical expectation, specifically within the medical arena, of a distance from emotional attachment. His treatment of Septimus is no different from the treatment of any other patient, "Proportion,...
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