An Abstract View Of Death In Mrs.Dalloway And The Hours

1967 words - 8 pages

An Abstract View of Death in Mrs.Dalloway and The Hours
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In Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours contradictory and almost altered views
of death are presented. Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham portray
death as escape for some, but an entrapment for others. It is no
longer treated as a subject to worry about or fear, which society now
views it as. A line from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, "Fear no more the
heat o' the sun / Nor the furious winter rages," sums up what the
authors of Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours are trying to convey. Meaning
that death is not something to fear, and life should be lived to the

The thought of death streamlines through several character's
narratives in both novels. In Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway and
Septimus Warren Smith are haunted with thoughts of death, while in The
Hours, Richard Brown and Laura Brown also share similar thoughts.
Their feelings on the subject are, however, different. It can also be
said that their motives for dying or wanting to die are also quite

The characters' thoughts, feelings, and reasons of death bring about
parallel relationships between the two novels. Septimus Warren Smith,
in my opinion, parallels Richard Brown. The most common fact between
them is that they are both the only people that actually die in their
respective story. They share a similar feeling toward death, in that
they both want to use it as an escape. They have very different
reasons why they choose suicide, yet they commit it in similar
fashions. Septimus is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome,
due to his stint in World War I, which has caused him to loose all
sense of time and reality. He hears voices and suffers from
flashbacks. In the morning while in Regent's Park, Septimus hears the
voice of Evans, a friend of his who died during the war, "He sang.
Evans answered from behind the tree. The dead were in Thessaly, Evans
sang, among the orchids. There they waited till the War was over, and
now the dead, now Evans himself -" (Woolf 70).

Richard Brown, however, is slowly dying of AIDS. He is a writer who's
about to receive an award for his work. Most notably was a novel he
wrote about the death of his mother, Laura Brown, who abandoned him at
a young age. His medications are giving him a similar reaction to time
and reality as Septimus had. This point is illustrated when Clarissa
Vaughan goes to visit Richard on her way back from getting flowers.
Richard says, "Sorry. I seem to keep thinking things have already
happened. When you asked if I remembered about the party and the
ceremony, I thought you meant, did I remember having gone to them. And
I did remember. I seem to have fallen out of time" (Cunningham 62).

There were alternate reasons for suicide in each character's case.
Septimus would have...

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