Tag Archives: big ben

Time and Authority

“Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority, and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop in Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information gratis, that it was half-past one” (111).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1997. Print.

The striking clocks in Mrs. Dalloway appear multiple times throughout the novel to allude to time as a controlling force as it “upheld authority.” As the people of London walk through expensive, aristocratic Harley Street, Woolf illustrates that all the people of London, despite which class they belong to, will eventually fall to the fate of time and temporality.

Importance of Time

“The sounds of Big Ben striking the half-hour stuc out between them with extraordinary vigour, as if a young man, strong,┬áindifferent, inconsiderate, were swinging dumb-bells this way and that.” (Woolf 48).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc., 1925. Print.

The idea of time is so important in this passage because it humanizes “time” by describing Big Ben as a “young man” and throughout the story Big Ben disrupts people during their daily routine, reminds them of their time, and helps them become aware of their time while also pacing them. Big Ben is constantly mentioned throughout the story almost making it seem to the reader as if it was one of the main characters. It keeps reminding the characters in the story that time is important and can not be wasted.