Expectations In The Movie The Hours

2984 words - 12 pages

Expectations in the Movie The Hours

We expect those endowed with a gift - be it artistic, intellectual or circumstantial - to cultivate that gift and use it as a vehicle for excellence in life. In the movie The Hours Virginia Woolf, the 20th Century British author; Laura Brown, a doted-upon 1951 Los Angeles housewife; and Clarissa Vaughan, a 2001 New York editor; struggle with their gifts and the expectations they, and others, have for themselves. All three women are obsessed with finding the right balance between living, freedom, happiness and love.

The Hours attempts to use one day to reflect Woolf s life and the impact her work has had on others. In the movie, Woolf is writing Mrs.Dalloway which Brown is reading and Vaughan sort of lives out. Woolf s novel connects the three women and affects their actions. It should be noted that Vaughan gets a lot less attention than Woolf and

Brown and seems to be more of a manifestation of Mrs. Dalloway. Vaughan, like Mrs. Dalloway, is a great party planner and is in the process of planning a party for a friend. Vaughan also projects Mrs. Dalloway's outward confidence and inward confusion.


A main theme throughout the movie is freedom. All three women actively seek it and at the movie's end each woman chooses what she thinks is best: Woolf drowns herself, Brown leaves her family and Vaughan finally lets go of her longtime friend and past lover, Richard. Each woman's decision, fueled by the circumstances which surround her, is reached after much thought and deliberation. Woolf s concern is Leonard's sanity and happiness. She realizes the great pressure she puts on him and sees her suicide as a way of freeing him from being responsible for her. Brown feels stifled by her doting husband and son and contemplates killing herself and her unborn baby but decides to leave her family after the birth of her child. Vaughan is forced to let go of Richard, at least physically, after he commits suicide.

Each woman is under tremendous pressure from both herself and society. Woolf is a literary genius who is expected to develop and share her gift in spite of her illness and fears. Writing for Woolf is a means of expressing and exploring her thoughts: Her writings reflect an attempt to reconcile the dual nature of her sexuality, her unfulfilled desire to bear a child" she often compared the writing process with childbirth" her consuming fear of failure, and an overwhelming sense that she might lose control over her life" (Authors and Artists for Young Adults). Woolf, by simply writing how she felt, has penned works that have been praised as revolutionary and deeply moving. Self-expression allowed Woolf to tap into her inner self and create her masterpieces.

Brown is privileged to have a husband who cherishes her and a son who
adores her but she finds herself unhappy in her marriage. She is expected to be the loving and appreciative wife and mother but harbors...

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