This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Society, Class, And Conflict The Social Criticism Of Virginia Woolf

1939 words - 8 pages

Virginia Woolf offers interesting analysis of social pressure and social class in Mrs. Dalloway and The Years. Understanding Woolf’s message about society demands a certain amount of sensitivity and decoding on behalf of her reader. Her social criticism in both texts can be easily overlooked because she keeps it subtle and implicit, hidden in the patterns and courses of her characters’ trains of thoughts. Yet upon such close reading, the essential importance of conflict between the individual and society in Woolf’s work becomes clear. While Mrs. Dalloway critiques the mental consequences of socialization, self-restraint, and the subsequent regret, The Years examines the relationship between the upper classes and the lower classes and the physical consequences of their respective places in society.
Virginia Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style of narration is essential to her method of providing social criticism. Instead of forcing extreme physical situations or conflicts into her text, Woolf instead offers nuanced observations through her characters’ patterns and trains of thought. Virginia Woolf said of Mrs. Dalloway, “I want to criticise the social system, and to show it at work, at its most intense” (Zwerdling), a statement that may surprise some readers. However, allowing the reader to witness each individual thought of the characters as they are linked together helps provide insight into how the social system influences their thoughts, memories, and ultimately their identities. The strength of Woolf’s social criticism comes from her ability to infer judgment in this fashion and presents interesting perspectives on class conflict, socialization self-restraint, regret, and coming to terms (or rejecting) with the conditions of one’s life.
One of the key conflicts that Woolf examines is tension between the rich and the poor in modern society. Whether it’s Mrs. Dalloway and Ms. Kilman or the shifting social dynamics of class in The Years, Woolf always takes time in her novels to illustrate the nuances of this relationship. In fact, “Mrs. Dalloway is in large measure an examination of a single class and its control over English society” (Zwerdling 70), but the single scene in which Clarissa meets with Ms. Kilman provides an interesting insight into her view of the lower classes. Ms. Kilman, a self-made woman who survives using her own knowledge, judges Mrs. Dalloway’s easy life as the wife to a prominent politician. Yet, “Odd it was, as Miss Kilman stood there (and stand she did, with the power and taciturnity of some prehistoric monster armoured for primeval warfare), how, second by second, the idea of her diminished, how hatred (which was for ideas, not people) crumbled, how she lost her malignity, her size, became second by second merely Miss Kilman, in a mackintosh, whom Heaven knows Clarissa would have liked to help. At this dwindling of the monster, Clarissa laughed. Saying good-bye, she laughed” (Mrs. Dalloway 90). Rather than allow...

Find Another Essay On Society, Class, and Conflict the Social Criticism of Virginia Woolf

The Tainted Creativity of Virginia Woolf

1549 words - 7 pages . Unfortunately, Virginia’s half-sister Stella passed away two years after her mother. In 1904, Virginia’s father passed away as well when Virginia was twenty-two. The loss of so many loved ones caused great misery. Shortly after the passing of her father, Virginia experienced her second mental breakdown, and she was sent to a mental institution to recover (“Virginia Woolf” Society). When Virginia was released, she became acquainted with the

Modernism and Virginia Woolf Essay

1466 words - 6 pages commitment of the author towards social issues. In this regard, suggesting most of Clarissa’s friends from high social status versus people like Septimus and his wife who are the major victims of War but most ignored in the society; Woolf attempts to criticize feeling inferior or superior in society due to your social class. Woolf’s concern about governing class spirit, social identity and the interaction of public and private life is suggested

Comparing And Contrasting "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf" And "Taming Of The Shrew"

1876 words - 8 pages beginning of every tale and story, the women will have the winning hand, but however as we come closer near the end, the males are the ones that always come out triumphant. "The Taming of the Shrew", a play written by William Shakespeare in the year 1592 is a supporting work of literature of the theory started above. Another supporting play will be "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" written by Edward Albee in the year 1962. The theme of both plays is the

Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Feminism

1061 words - 4 pages Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941), a prominent English writer and feminist, was considered one of the twentieth-century’s most remarkable modernist novelists. The well-known works of Virginia Woolf are often closely related to the development of feminist reproach. With that being said, she was a rather distinguished writer in relation to the modernist movement as well. Virginia Woolf certainly restructured the novel, experimenting with her flow of

The Intersection of External Time and Internal Time in Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

3259 words - 13 pages not arbitrary. As Daiches points out, " Virginia Woolf tells us, in a preface written three years after the book was first published, that ' in the first version Septimus, who later is intended to be her double, had no existence ; and that Mrs Dalloway was originally to kill herself at the end of the party' " (75). Though they have had a different life and are of a diverse social class, Septimus Warren Smith can be

The Widow and the Parrot by Virginia Woolf

1702 words - 7 pages short story originated, it is greatly unappreciated until its rediscovery sixty years later. All in all, "The Widow and the Parrot" written by Virginia Woolf, is a tale that shows the true rewards that kindness will bring, in addition to the power of wisdom to those who seem helpless, that still resonates with people in modern day society.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

908 words - 4 pages 1) a) 'George: We all peel labels; sweetie; … you get through the skin, all three layers, through the muscle, slosh aside the organs… and get down to bone.'What, in your view, is the significance of this remark for the action of the play as a whole?In the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, all of the characters struggle with their own invisible demons. George, Martha, Honey and Nick all live in a perfect, intact bubble of self

The Death of the Moth by Virginia Woolf

758 words - 3 pages ‘The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf      Death is a difficult subject for anyone to speak of, although it is a part of everyday life. In Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth”, she writes about a moth flying about a windowpane, its world constrained by the boundaries of the wood holding the glass. The moth flew, first from one side, to the other, and then back as the rest of life continued ignorant of its movements. At first

The Set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

875 words - 4 pages The Set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?         For a play as drastically depressing and oppressive as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the set needs to augment the mood as much as possible. Albee’s play calls for several props, and all of these have to be provided, but more than that, the set needs to look as real as possible, to show that these people are not vastly different from the rest of us. And because in that fact the true

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

1079 words - 4 pages Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Power Struggles are very common is many marriages. In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee, the relationship or marriage between George and Martha is based in power. The power struggle between George and Martha has become the basis of their relationship. Their love has turned into hate. The only connection they have is through their insults and the series of games they play. The power struggle

The Death of the Moth, by Virginia Woolf

834 words - 3 pages The battle against death, while can be portrayed as magnificent, is ultimately pathetic and insignificant. Like a boulder tipping precariously off a cliff, one can exhibit the ardent desire to survive, yet against the fragility and impermanence of life, this desire is a pitiful effort in the face of impending failure. The hopelessness of such a situation is depicted in “The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf, in which the moth incessantly

Similar Essays

Conflict Theory Based On Stratification In The Social Class In Society

696 words - 3 pages Discuss in detail the three (3) major assumptions of Conflict Theory. In light of these assumptions, how do conflict theorists view stratification based on social class in society. Include in your discussion 2 specific examples to support the conflict view. I. Definition of conflict theory: Conflict theory: this theory basically says that in society everyone functions to maximize their own benefits. Social/ political change, it is argued, is

The Life And Literature Of Virginia Woolf

1626 words - 7 pages artwork is based and is revealed through description. The context and author’s background influence an author’s style of writing and his or her main themes as evidenced in the life experiences of Virginia Woolf and how they experienced her literary works. Virginia Woolf is an English novelist, essayist, biographer, and feminist who lived between the years 1882 and 1941. She was born Virginia Adeline Stephen to Leslie Stephen and Julia Duckworth

The Contrast Of Virginia Woolf And Alice Walker

1214 words - 5 pages The Contrast of Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker After reading the four essays assigned to this sequence, it becomes interesting to contrast two author's points of view on the same subject. Reading one professional writer's rewriting of a portion of another professional writer's essay brings out many of each of their characteristics and views. Also, the difference in writing styles could be drastic, or slight. Nevertheless, the writers

Psychiatric Evaluation And Diagnosis Of Virginia Woolf

1015 words - 4 pages I have chosen to write about Virginia Woolf, a British novelist who wrote A Room of One’s Own, To the Lighthouse and Orlando, to name a few of her pieces of work. Virginia Woolf was my first introduction to feminist type books. I chose Woolf because she is a fantastic writer and one of my favorites as well. Her unique style of writing, which came to be known as stream-of-consciousness, was influenced by the symptoms she experienced through her