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Elements of modern literary techniques in Mrs Dalloway and Ulysses

The novel Mrs Dalloway (originally entitled The Hours) follows the events involving
several characters throughout a day of June in London. The novel has a wonderful clarity and
a truly remarkable formal shaping which made it be compared very often! to James Joyce's
masterpiece, Ulysses. If Joyce started his novel from a single day in the life of Leopold Bloom
to arrive at suggestions that targeted the human condition and symbolic - mythological
dimension, Virginia Woolf considers several hours (not incidentally, the book was initially
named The Hours) of the life of Clarissa Dalloway. Set on a single June day in 1923, the novel
tracks the parallel lives of two very different Londoners, Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus
Warren Smith. Clarissa is a 51-year old important member of the society who is giving a
party that night for her husband, Richard Dalloway, a Conservative Member of Parliament.
She moves in the upper reaches of British society (the prime minister will attend her party),
but she is not a titled aristocrat, and she is thrilled about the prime ministers actually showing
up at the party. In setting her novel on a single day in a city in June in a city through which
various characters walk while we listen in on their thought, Woolf is obviously alluding to
Joyces Ulysses, which had been published in 1922 and which she was reading that summer
that Mrs. Dalloway began to take shape. Ulysses is set on June 16, 1904, in Dublin, and is
told primarily through the thoughts of two main characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen
Daedalus, whose lives intersect in complicated ways. Daedalus is a young man much like
Joyce himself, and Bloom may be seen as a father figure for him.
While Ulysses is a huge book that shows Joyces love of word play and multiple levels
of literary allusion, the primary one being to Homers Odyssey, Mrs. Dalloway is a short book
(under 200 pages), but a very rich one, a book in which small incidents reverberate (and
sometimes recur) with meaning. In Mrs. Dalloway the character Septimus Warren Smith may
seem obscure, until we realize that he is a doppelganger or double for Clarissa. After that
things begin to open up as you look at them in comparison to each other. Most of what can be
learned from this novel can be learned directly from what is one the page, requiring little or no
recourse to literary allusion to narratives outside the novel, unlike Ulysses, which cannot fully
be understood without a key.

The most powerful resemblance between the two novels resides in the exploration of
subjectivism, turning from external reality to examine inner states of consciousness, in many
cases drawing on modernist examples in the stream of consciousness styles. This is a style
of writing developed by a group of writers at the beginning of the 20th century. It aimed at
expressing in words the flow of a characters thoughts and feelings in their minds. The
technique aspires to give readers the impression of being inside the mind of the character.
Therefore, the internal view of the minds of the characters sheds light on plot and motivation
in the novel. In English literature, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf are the two best-known
novelists of the stream of consciousness which originated in France but British writers
developed it to a very high level of artistic perfection. Both of them have their unique writing
Virginia Woof's Mrs Dalloway has a strangely complicated clarity and a beauty of
written expression, whilst James Joyce's Ulysses can hardly be called a perfect novel.
However, Ulysses fulfills the modernist goal of making everything new in a much fuller
sense than Mrs Dalloway does. Joyce's stream-of-consciousness narrative is radical and seems
to defy not only the general conventions of grammar and punctuation, but the very concept of
the novel itself. Joyce's completely uninhibited stream-of consciousness narrative takes the
expressive value of language to a value hard to imagine.
Ulysses pushes realism to a new level, the subjective mental realm. The raw portrayal
of human thoughts serves as a mirror that reveals humanity beneath the mask of external
appearance. The way this is conveyed to the reader is through language, which is an
experimental one. In his novel, Joyce uses an experimentation which requires an obscurity of
language, abandoning the linear technique of narration and exposition.
Ulysses is a masterpiece with a complicated and complex building, with a technology
that revolutionizes the novel and introduces literary ways of other genera and literary species
poem, drama, essay, etc. farce. The novel is achieved through language beyond language.
Ulysses reconstructs the story of Homer. The theme of Joyce's novel of the same journey, the
symbol of knowledge and personal revelation. Joyce transposes the ancient myth in modern
time, but the implementation has parodic effects where the subject is the author's

contemporary society, from Dublin, who lost values once exalted in classical epic. The
language is a lucid and merciless sarcasm.
The novel focuses on three main characters: Leopold Bloom, his wife Marion (Molly)
Bloom, the opposite Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus young (Telemachus). The house on 7
Eccles Street takes Ithacas place. The characters are ordinary people. By this, Joyce starts
from the belief that things and trivial facts can mean mythical, that a single day of a particular
individual, seemingly insignificant, can symbolize the life of any man in the world.
Modern literature is predominantly visual. In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
experimented for the first time the depiction of consciesness and used different devices to
depict non-linearity, simultaneity, fragmentariness and momentary impressions, devices which
were central features of modernist expression. In Mrs Dalloway tese features of modern
experience are connected to the experience of modern city life. The different time-schemes
used in the novel are embedded within the one-day structure. Virginia Woolf describes the
urban experience in Mrs Dalloway by using different techniques to represent the fragmentary
nature of city life, as simultaneity and the montage techniques. All throughout Woolfs work
the city is associated with life and love. The respectable and orderly London is celebrated in
Mrs Dalloway:
In peoples eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge;, in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages,
motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs;
in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was
what she loved; life; London; this moment of June. (Mrs Dalloway: 6)

Virginia Woolf did experiments on simultanist techniques in Mrs. Dalloway. It is the

simultaneity of several characters experienceof the same events by means of juxtaposition of
different consciousnesses. The idea of simultaneity came to the writer from painters, and
especially cubists. In literature, the easiest way to indicate that two or several experiences are
simultaneous is to use a narrator who is telling the reader that the event takes place
simultaneously. But since the stream-of-consciousness novel depicts the inner reality by trying
that there is no narrator, simultaneity must be expressed by means of different literary devices.
One of the devices in Mrs Dalloway is the use of the motor car of a royal person, or the Prime
Minister (his identity is unknown). The car moves in different parts of London and people

gathered along the streets watch it passing. The novelist changes the focus from person to
person, or rather from mind to mind and because all these people watching the car have
observations and thoughts about the car, the reader knows that these events or thoughts are
taking place simultaneously. An effect of simultaneity of several events can be created in
cinema with a moving camera, which in film technique is called camera drive, or by means of
montage, in other words by showing alternately different persons watching the car proceeding.
The basic and most prominent method to depict consciousness is the use of the interior
monologue. Though the term is often confused with stream of consciousness, there is a
distinction between them, since stream of consciousness is the psychic phenomenon itself,
while the interior monologue is the instrument used to translate this phenomenon into words.
To do so, the interior monologue often disregards logical transitions, formal syntax and even
conventional punctuation, so as to reflect the apparently disconnected and chaotic sequence of
thoughts. Joyce went further and deeper in his experimentation by using the direct interior
monologue, whereby he shifted abruptly from thought to thought, without any apparent
connection of verb, subject or even punctuation.
Joyce entails a preference for an anti-hero, or at any rate a hero who does not resemble
the heroes of earlier novels, as well as an exploration of subject matter that, while a part of
ordinary consciousness, is often taboo in art, such as defecation and masturbation. As a
notable experiment in the rendering of time, Ulysses displays a modernist skepticism about
the linear or sequential arrangement of events into traditional plots. In contrast with the earlier
tendency to make the prose of novels generally referential, Joyce was particularly selfconscious about the literary quality or style of novelistic language he used; he experimented
with narrative devices and combined the realist representation of the world with esoteric
symbolism. Finally, Ulysses called attention to its own status as fiction and to relationship
between fiction and history, the question of the novel as a modern form of epic.