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Integration Of Life And Death In Mrs. Dalloway And The Hours

2123 words - 8 pages

Integration of Life and Death in Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours

Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours show that life and death are dependent on
each other. It is a person's life experiences that define their
thoughts and feelings on death and death can define their life
experiences. Cunningham, the author of The Hours, explains it best:

We live our lives, do whatever we do and then we sleep - its as simple
and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or
take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority,
are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by
time itself. There's just this for consolation: and hour here or there
when our lives seem against all odds and expectations, to burst open
and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but
children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be
followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish
the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
(Cunningham 225)

Both authors use different characters' perspectives to show different
vantage points of life and death and how one affects the other. Woolf
uses Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith, from Mrs. Dalloway, to
illustrate her view on life and death. Clarissa is initially scared of
life, thinking that every day is dangerous. Septimus loves life and
fully embraces it, until he becomes ill. When Clarissa hears of
Septimus' suicide, she reevaluates her will to live. Cunningham's
characters from The Hours, Laura Brown and her son Richard Brown,
present a different perspective of life and death from what is seen in
Mrs. Dalloway. Laura wants to escape her life from her family, while
Richard wants to preserve his through suicide. It is not until
Richard's death that Laura begins to regret her decision of
abandonment.

Clarissa Dalloway is a women living in the time when a women's primary
role was that of a housewife. Clarissa spent her days reading memoirs
and trying to get her servants to like her. Her life was restricted to
a very set routine. Even her marriage was routine and void of passion.
"She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown;
there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only
this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up
Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa and more;
this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway" (Woolf 11).

Although her life was a set routine, Clarissa embraced her role of
mother and housewife because she feared life and the thought of dying.
Her fear for life is illustrated when she repeats the line of
Shakespear's Cymbeline while she walks to buy flowers. Clarissa's fear
of dying stems from her living through the death of her mother, father
and sister. She has the...

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