“What are they looking at?” said Clarissa Dalloway to the maid who opened her door.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. p.29
In the entirety of the previous pages, we are shown the dozens of people who look, whether it is the motorcar, Septimus and his wife, or the plane making letters that no one can agree upon. This statement from Clarissa, as a result, comes off rather curious because it implies that she might not be completely acknowledging how much she, herself, looks and pays attention to different events. Another way of viewing this is that there are many small events happening, but she is not consciously paying attention to them. It is as if she is moving thoughts around in her own mind and then suddenly realizes that other people are looking around, too.
“There was Regent’s Park. Yes. As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought. They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes. As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.
“The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time. We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them. That always did the trick (11)”
I thought this passage seemed modern because of the vagueness of it all. The reader is given this situation without any context clues. The author does not say who “we” is or who “they” are. It is also a stream of consciousness, a train of thought coming from the speaker.
“I certainly never did see no man like you, Jeff. You always wanting to have it all clear out in words always, what everybody is always feeling. I certainly don’t see a reason, why I should always be explaining to you what I mean by what I am saying. And you ain’t got no feeling ever for me, to ask me what I meant, by what I was saying when I was so tired, that night. I never know anything right I was saying.”
Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. 101. Print.
Stein here says what she’s being showing. The knowledge of what is in our head is not amenable to a simple outright explanation. This dialog gives a small glimpse into mind of Melanctha.