In Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf utilizes a narrative method of writing where the reader follows along within the characters minds as events occur throughout the day. She creates her characters through memories they have, or share with one another, as she takes the reader on a unique ride through time, incorporating the past and the present. Woolf uses many parallels and symbols throughout her narrative but strongly ties the book together using time through Big Ben, death, and the old lady in the window. Commonly seen throughout the novel is the central idea of time. In Mrs. Dalloway, the manifestation of time in London is seen through Big Ben, especially as the narrative shifts its’ focus from one character to the next, using time as a transition. “The leaden circles dissolving” is a phrase commonly used by Woolf throughout the novel expressing the image of the clock face of Big Ben as time passes throughout the story. The chimes of Big Ben seem to remind characters of their mortality and that time is passing as the end of their life is approaching. The sound of Big Ben became an occurrence in Clarissa’s everyday life; the anticipation had become comforting but also disturbing each day the bells chime. “For having lived in Westminster – how many years now? Over twenty, - one feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night. Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense…before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air” (Woolf, *). From the quote, one can see there is an obvious dichotomy between linear and circular time, a struggling question of a finite end or eternal existence. Woolf uses the transition between monologues to reflect on time passing, and the difference between how time is perceived and how it actually operates. Throughout the day in Mrs. Dalloway, each time Big Ben rings, marking each...
Cited: "Mrs.Dalloway." Mrs. Dalloway / Virginia Woolf. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.
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