The Challenge Of Free Indirect Speech In Mrs. Dalloway

1350 words - 5 pages

Mrs. Dalloway’s Free Indirect Discourse
Modernist writers emergence in the twentieth century brought many changes to literature. They rejected the Romantic focus on nature and being and instead were inspired by the impersonal and capitalistic feelings brought on from machinery and World War I. Soldiers who were sent to war saw death and pain in completely new ways. These experiences, which only worsened with World War II in the 1940s, prevented many soldiers from mentally coming home. Enlisted writers and those back home who saw the shell-shock effects of war used that horror within their writing. Modern writers also experimented with subject matter, form, and style. They did away with character summaries, used moment time instead of linear plots, developed stream of consciousness, and rejected single authoritative narrator. These deliberate changes produced a type of literature that was vastly different than anything before it. There were many prominent writers during the modernist period and they each developed their own style. One writer who was at the forefront of modernism was Virginia Woolf. She was an English writer who played a significant role in the London writing society. Woolf experimented with the modernist techniques but one that she was most known for was the use of free indirect discourse. This new type of narration added a deeper level to the story and injected the character’s thoughts in a direct way. Woolf’s story Mrs. Dalloway was well known for this. Free indirect discourse was used throughout Mrs. Dalloway and gave the story many advantages over standard direct and indirect discourse.
Free indirect discourse is a combination between direct and indirect discourse. Modernist writers developed this form of narration in rejection to the single authoritative narrator that was previously used. Before free indirect direct was developed point of view was limited to direct or indirect speech. Direct speech is where a character’s speech is written exact. An example of this would be: “I’m going to take her to the movies with me tomorrow night,” he said. Indirect speech is when what the character’s speech is paraphrased by the narrator. An example of this is: He said he is going to take her to the movies tomorrow. Writer Jon Gingerich, editor of O'Dwyer's magazine in New York, states in his article “The Benefits of Free Indirect Discourse” that in free indirect discourse “indirect speech is being displayed in a direct way.” The narrator embeds a character’s thoughts within the narration and moves freely between stating the character’s thoughts and showing them. Modernist authors take the indirect speech of a character’s thoughts and remove the direct speech qualifying phrases, like “he said” and “she thought,” and place it within the narration. Stories that use free indirect discourse have a “dual voice” in which the voices of both the narrator and the character speak separately yet are merged. The narrator remains anonymous...

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