In Michael Cunningham’s novel “The Hours”, all three of the main female characters- Clarissa, Virginia and Laura- feels caught in familial, social and public roles. Using examples from the book, discuss what these ‘performances’ suggest about how normalcy and sanity are aligned with the ability to act out social roles. Which of the characters refuse to play a role, and what price does he/she play for refusal? Drawing on your first essay, discuss how Cunningham’s portrayal of those characters mirror the commentary of ‘illness’ that Woolf makes through Septimus Warren Smith.
Michael Cunningham novel ‘The Hours’, is a twentieth centaury novel that applies the power imbedded by a metafictional style of writing to comment on societal issues such as sexuality, gender norms, mental illness and the inescapable reality of death. Cunning achieves this by depicting the lives of three female characters, namely Clarissa Vaughn, Laura Brown and Virginia Woolf. Cunningham ingeniously uses a three-dimensional writings style with different narrative links in the novel to refer to Mrs. Dalloway the novel as well as Virginia Woolf’s life in the 1900’s London and her coping with mental illness. In the following essay the entrapment of the three female characters will be discussed with regards to familial, social and public roles. Accompanying examples from the novel would serve as motivation with regards to the alignment between normalcy and sanity with the ability to act out social roles. Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway will then be used to discuss how Cunningham portrayal in The Hours mirrors the commentary on ‘illness’ the Woolf initially makes through the war veteran based character, Septimus Warren Smith.
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