Dissecting and Comparing the Works of Virginia Woolf

Looking at _Mrs. Dalloway_ and _To The Lighthouse_


  1. My intentions of creating this page was to dissect two of Virginia's Woolf's great works and compare them. I began with looking at Virginia Woolf and then proceeded into my "dissection". I looked at themes/symbols, writing styles, reviews/critiques, other people's analysis, people she has influenced, and even the covers themselves of these two novels. I really enjoyed putting this page together, I loved reading both these books and taking a look at how Woolf portrays the "New Woman". Being a history major who loves studying the early twentieth century, these books really appeal to me as they deal with the social changes that happened at that time. Her novels include comparisons of society before and after the Great War which is super important to understanding its impact and how it led to a new movement in society including the "New Woman". Also it helps that Woolf is such a real writer in that we get to see people's thoughts as people in reality do think and feel, the different personalities struggling with the same change. In particular, I loved finding reviews on Woolf's novels the same year her books were published. It is so interesting to see what people thought of her books then, especially seeing as she was a woman in an era where they were starting to really fight for equality. Not only was it fascinating to read these critiques opinions on the content of the book but how society affected what they said about Woolf's works. Enjoy!
  2. The Recorded Voice Of Virginia Woolf
  3. I cannot even begin to explain how excited this recording made me when I first heard it! At first I was captivated by her voice, the way she pronounced her words and how she took her time to speak clearly and properly. Then I began to focus on the content of this video and oh my, it was incredible. It seems a little silly maybe the first minute or so talking about words and giving them almost life-like qualities, but then as she progresses with her argument you start to understand what she is saying and what she means and by the end are on her side of the argument. Absolutely wonderful!!
  4. These three articles below include a biography on the earlier part of her life including her childhood, her marriage, and her early literary career (also the founding the Hogarth Press with her husband as therapy). The second article gives more detail on her family life/history and death than the other articles on this page. The third one contains two newspaper articles about her death. The first of these newspaper articles is about her disappearance and then goes on to list her accomplishments. The next article is confirming her suicide.
  5. This is a bit of an ironic quote. Woolf was looking for peace when she killed herself yet she was avoiding life by killing herself. However, does she mean life literally or life as in living life to its fullest? Because depending on what she means, this quote might not be quite so ironic...
  6. To begin my dissection and comparison, I look at themes and symbols from both novels. Some of them overlap such as her symbols of water and time and her themes of tradition, the impacts of the Great War, and the "New Woman". Others are unique to one or the other novel.
    THEMES/SYMBOLS (get excited!):
  7. A huge theme in both To The Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway is tradition. In both novels, the characters are struggling with the past they have grown up with and the change that is happening around them. Suddenly everything that was important to the previous generations is being pushed aside for a more modern era and the "new woman". People are starting to feel like some of the traditions are old and ridiculous. Lily does not want to marry, she wants to paint. Septimus does not want to go off to an insane asylum (and be treated like he is not human), he wants to be free. Before the war, women were expected to marry and have families. Those who were insane were taken out of society and deemed to be unhuman-like.
  8. This war is what turns everything upside down for the characters in both novels. Women have had a chance to be independent and join the work force while the men were off fighting. Men have seen things they would rather forget. Nothing is the same anymore. Both novels talk about how people are dealing with this change and what it means for the new and the old generations. It can be seen as a symbol of love, change, disappointment, and trials testing people's characters.
  9. Time is very important in both novels. With To The Lighthouse it represents the change that is happening before,during, and after the war. In Mrs. Dalloway particularly, the chiming of Big Ben as it hits the next hour is a huge part of the book. Even though it only covers one day, people are always stopping to listen to the hours being chimed out. Which, realistically, people do notice the time all day, every day. Big Ben is a symbol for Mrs. Dalloway of all her memories, and all the characters in the novel. It constantly reminds them of time past, present, and future.
  10. This essay is super interesting! Time is a huge factor in Mrs. Dalloway and in all our lives today. The writer of this essay does such a great job relating Woolf's message of time into the world we live in today. It is a huge part of our life (and death) and it is something precious that we need to be mindful of and not take advantage of it. Time will always be a part of us and we can accept it or fight it. They do a fabulous job discussing what it entails to either accept or fight time and what both reactions bring to the individual.
  11. I have noticed Virginia Woolf likes to include nature in her works and in Mrs. Dalloway the rose is very important. Not only does it symbolize the unspoken love between Mrs. and Mr. Dalloway, it also represemts Mrs. Dalloway's struggle with a sense of independence yet trying to be the woman she was raised to be. She decides to go an get the flowers herself, however, later, when Mr. Dalloway brings her some flowers she takes the feminine role of exclaiming how pretty they are and how thoughtful he is (making him feel his importance like a good wife should).
  12. When I read Mrs. Dalloway I never noticed water as a symbol. However, as can be seen in To The Lighthouse as well, Woolf likes to talk about women, their body, and fluids. Using water (a fluid) to describe the relationship between Peter and Mrs. Dalloway then is really quite interesting. Especially since the typical gender roles are reversed in this novel where Peter is gushing with emotion (literally crying) and Mrs. Dalloway remains firm and cold to the core.