Author Topic: Mrs. Dalloway  (Read 5294 times)

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Mrs. Dalloway
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2010, 12:25:06 pm »
Thanks, Mandy! This is enlightening! I'll have to think about the movie more in this light.

Before, I was thinking of Clarissa as somewhat like Scarlett O'Hara in the first scenes of Gone With the Wind, when she was obsessing over the coming party and dismissive of the Civil War that was threatening to break out and to take the spotlight off of her.
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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Mrs. Dalloway
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2010, 01:42:06 pm »

Well, again, I think it's important to remember that the war is over at the time that the film takes place.  And, in any case, the war would be a current event that she lived through, but she would have experienced the war in a very detached way... through news stories, encountering soldiers/ veterans, etc.  And as I posted before, people go about their daily lives all the time during wartimes and in the wake of war.

The fact that she ends up being a wife and "a perfect hostess" as Peter predicts about her in her youth... is in a way a sad thing.  She thinks of herself as "Mrs. Dalloway... not even Clarissa anymore."  Her identity and the direction of her life has been driven by her class and social expectations.  In her youth, in the movie, you hear her talking about the world seeming very dangerous... and her main concern often seems to be safety and security.  Her preoccupation with being safe, actually reminds me a lot of Ennis. They both choose what they believe to be a safe path over more risky paths that probably would have led to greater happiness.

In a way, I think the film/ book is a lot about how life can turn out somewhat disappointing... Sally Seton wanted to change the world when she was young (with Clarissa's help)... but instead both women ended up in very conventional roles.  Peter's life turns out to be a "failure" too... he wanted to be a writer... but at the party he reveals he hasn't written a word... and his life seems consumed with social scandals.

There are scenes from Clarissa's youth where we see how unpleasant and conventional Clarissa could be... for example, her attitude about the woman from a lower class who had a baby.  But, I think we're supposed to understand that Clarissa had a lot more potential in terms of intelligence and sensitivity... a lot of which she squashes, again, for the sake of convention. I think, again, like all the characters, she's meant to be seen in both positive and negative ways.  She was bold enough to kiss Sally, but nowhere near brave enough to really pursue that relationship.  Though, from the perspective of a lesbian viewer/ reader, it's interesting to hear her muse at the end that she may have forgotten or overlooked (I'm forgetting the exact wording at the moment) the thing that mattered most to her.


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Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Mrs. Dalloway
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2010, 03:29:48 pm »
Though, from the perspective of a lesbian viewer/ reader, it's interesting to hear her muse at the end that she may have forgotten or overlooked (I'm forgetting the exact wording at the moment) the thing that mattered most to her.

I remember her saying that too. At the end of the movie, the members of government and establishment are recommending that young men coming back from the War and their spouses should emigrate to Canada if they can't find employment in Britain within a set time period. This idea is promoted as the solution...just get rid of the overpopulation. But to Clarissa, it almost seems inviting, as if a fresh start. But you know she'll never do it, and probably not her daughter, either. I wonder if Canada presented a good opportunity for those whose sexual orientations or ways of thinking just didn't fit into the mainstream?

It's an interesting study of the times.
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Re: Mrs. Dalloway
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2011, 09:55:34 pm »
Yesterday I obtained the book Orlando by Virginia Wolf, thought to be the most engaging novel on the issue of gender, that is until Jeffery Eugenides' Middlesex. It's also the topic of the movie by Sally Potter, starring Tilda Swinton and Quentin Crisp (as Elizabeth I). And, oh yes, Billy Zane.
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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Mrs. Dalloway
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2011, 10:35:17 pm »
Yes, Orlando is truly radical considering Virginia Woolf's time period.  And, the movie is lovely.

Virginia had a theory about the "androgynous heart"... and Orlando is the most important example of her playing with that idea.  Switching back and forth between male and female... or masculine and feminine.

As someone who personally finds androgyny to be one of the most compelling things ever, I truly appreciate Virginia's interest in this concept.  It really is revolutionary to think of the concept of the "androgynous heart" coming from a woman raised in a super strict Victorian household.
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie