Sunday, October 26, 2008

Works Cited

Works Cited
"Leonard Woolf." The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and The Arts. 2007. 28 Sept. 2008 .

"Luftwaffe." Spartacus Educational. 2008. 28 Sept. 2008 .

"MSO: Meryl Streep Online." MSO: Meryl Streep Online. 2008. Creative Artists Agency. 20 Oct. 2008 .

"Overview- HIV/AIDS." 25 Sept. 2008. US Dept. of Health and Human Services. 20 Oct. 2008 .

"Vanessa Bell." The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and The Arts. 2007. 28 Sept. 2008 .

Virginia and Richard

"There was one that looked a bit like a black, electrified jellyfish. They were singing, just now, in a foreign language. I believe it may have been Greek. Archaic Greek." (pg 59)

"She might see it while walking with Leonard in the square . . . randomly spiked, fluid but whole, like a jellyfish . . . A flock of sparrows outside her window once sang, unmistakably, in Greek." (pg 70-71)

Over the course of ten pages or so, Cunningham chooses to give Virginia and Richard identical symptoms of illness. The common ailment aids in the comparison between these two characters-- they are both very creative, artistic people but are also the two characters in the novel that commit suicide. It speaks volumes about how sensitive they are and how deeply they feel, just like the way the church choir director of Thorton Wilder's famous play Our Town kills himself because he simply feels too much.

Clarissa and Richard vs. Clarissa and Sally

"...they had kissed or not kissed, they had certainly argued..." (pg. 52)

In this sentence, Cunningham again brings shows the contrast between the relationship Clarissa once had with Richard (and may have had for the rest of her life) and the relationship she now has with Sally. In this sentence, Cunningham makes it clear that the argument was the piece that mattered. Cunningham does not make it clear whether she and Richard kissed or not because the argument is the important part. Clarissa and Richard's relationship was more volatile and uncertain, but Clarissa thinks on how she felt much more alive during her relationship with Richard. On the other side of things, her relationship with Sally is a good relationship, but it makes Clarissa feel old and boring. There is no spark the way there would have been with Richard and this is seen as a bad thing. Cunningham makes it very clear that liveliness and true feeling should outweigh comfort and stability.

Unnatural Life

"Their lawn, extravagantly watered, is a brilliant, almost unearthly green." (pg. 47)

Laura's lawn represents the way she feels about her actual life. Everything seems perfect from the outside-- she's married to a nice man, has a nice son with another one on the way, her home is nice and her life is simple. However, Laura feels like an outsider in her own life. Everything she doesn't feels fake and unnatural to her. Everything is too tended to, much like the lawn, and therefore not genuine or true.

Loss of Identity

"So now she is Laura Brown. Laura Zielski, the solitary girl, the incessant reader, is gone, and here in her place is Laura Brown." (pg. 40)

Loss of identity plays in important role in The Hours. Laura is not the only character to feel that she is losing who she is. Virginia feels herself slipping away while recovering from her "illness" in the country. Her illness has caused her to feel like a completelt different person, not Virginia anymore. Clarissa also feels as though she may not know herself anymore because at one point in her life, she sacrificed someone she might have been for a more safe and stable life. Instead of staying with Richard and living a life full of "living", she decided on Sally and an easy relationship that needed less work. She now looks back on the choice and wonders if she sacrificed who she really was for simpler life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"On the tabletop, a dozen white roses offer their... beauty."

Flowers show up time and time again in The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway. In keeping with the theme of time, age and beauty, flowers are a disposable representation of beauty that fades quickly. There is nothing lasting about a flower's beauty. Its sentiment has also become shallow and unfeeling. Spouses often buy their significant others flowers to show appreciation and even love, but in today's society, they have become a trite symbol of love that has no real depth. In this scene, Lauran's husband Dan has bought her a bouquet of white roses. Laura married Dan because she felt it was the right thing to do but has no real love for him. Dan may love Laura, but since he doesn't know her, he really only loves who he thinks she is.

The Importance of a Day

"...and knew it was going to be a difficult day." (pg. 38)

The idea of a day and the importance a single day can play in a simple life. Laura Brown predicts that it will be a "difficult day" and she is right. Over the course of one day, Laura debates suicide and essentially decides to leave her family because she knows that if she stays with them, she won't survive. This day in her life is pivotal, much like the three other days that relate to hers (Virginia Woolf's one day, Clarissa Vaughn's day and Clarissa Dalloway's day), important things happen within one day because really, one day is simply a life lived within twenty four hours.

Aging II

"...a girl in a new dress . . . fresh and full of hope. No, she will not look in the mirror." (pg. 31)

Again, Cunningham shows how important the theme of age is to his novel. In this scene, Virginia is washing her face and refuses to look in the mirror. Instead, she chooses to pretend she is something else-- a young girl perhaps. Just like thousands of women all over the world, Virginia is in denial about aging. She cannot face the fact that she is growing old and thus growing closer to death. The urge to avoid aging and death is something that is built into human genetic code. It goes along with survival instinct. Virginian refuses to face (literally) her own age and prefers to pretend she is still a fresh girl full of hope-- something she idolizes but can no longer be. This is also an important part of Mrs. Dalloway, a book that Virginia Woolf wrote in the later part of her life as she was aging.

Connections I

"There are still the flowers to buy." (pg. 9); "Mrs. Dalloway said something (what?), and got the flowers herself." (pg. 29); "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." (pg. 37)

Here the reader sees the first sentence of the first three sections of The Hours. Each one begins with a different women with a sort of variation on the famous first line of Mrs. Dalloway-- Clarissa Vaughn thinking of her own flowers and thus establishing her as the modern day Clarissa Dalloway, VIrginia Woolf struggling to write the iconic line that defines the entire book and Laura Brown reading said line in her 50's bedroom. Cunningham uses that line to first tie all three women together. He also uses that line as a inside joke of sorts with those readers who have also read Mrs. Dalloway. The Hours deals so heavily with the themes and effects of Virginia's novel that it only fits that he would tie the book into his own piece of fiction in every way he could.

Meryl Streep and Vanessa Redgrave

"...Clarissa cannot immediately identify her (Meryl Streep?..." (pg. 27)

Meryl Streep is a famous actress with a very large fanbase and amount of critical acclaim. She has won several prestigious awards, including two Oscars for Sophie's Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer, and continues to act in movies today. In an interesting bit of trivia and connection, she starred in the film adaptation of The Hours as Clarissa Vaughn, the very character that sees Meryl Streep on the street the morning of the party.


Monday, October 20, 2008


"...she still looks all right, handsome now instead of pretty-- when will the crepe and gauntness, the shriveled lips, of her old woman's face begin to emerge?"

Just like Mrs. Dalloway, age and death are both important themes in The Hours. In looking at all three of the women portrayed by Cunningham, death is a common thread between them. With Virginia, she fears she will wither away to death living in the country, a place characterized by its natural "life" but she feels the city is far more alive. In the end, of course, Virginia gives into suicide because she feels she cannot go on ruining others' lives (Leonard) or through another war, something tied heavily to thousands of deaths. With Clarissa, death and age surround her. She is constantly thinking of how she has aged and even how her feelings have aged and changed. She fears that in aging she has lost much of who she was (a young woman with "life") and settled for a more boring existence.

Mrs. Dalloway Allusion

"She straightens her shoulders as she stands at the corner of Eight Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the light. There she is, thinks Willie Bass, who passes her on some mornings . . . The light changes and he walks on." (pg. 13)

This lengthily paragraph written from the point of view of someone other than Clarissa Vaughn echoes the paragraph within Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf-- "She stiffened a little on the kerb, waiting for Durtnall's van to pass. A charming woman, Scrope Purvis thought her . . . There she perched, never seeing him, waiting to cross, very upright." (Woolf, pg. 5) Since Clarissa Vauhgn is playing the "part" of a modern Mrs. Dalloway, it is fitting that Cunningham chose to almost exactly parallel this small scene from Mrs. Dalloway in his own novel. It shows the comparisions between Clarissa Dalloway and Clarissa Vaughn and also serves as an intelligent aside to the readers familiar with Woolf's novel.


"You have no T-cells at all, none that we can detect" (pg. 11)

In this simple aside sentence, Cunningham informs the reader that Richard suffers from the HIV/AIDS virus. HIV (which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus) finds and kills certain white bloods cells (T-cells) that fight infections. AIDS (which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the final stage of the HIV. Richard is in the final stage of HIV and even though there are new drugs for him to take to try and save his body, Cunningham makes it clear that Richard's mind is beyond repair.


Monday, September 29, 2008

The Luftwaffe

"...bombers drone in the sky, though she looks for the planes but can't see them." (pg. 1)

Virginia Woolf killed herself in 1941, right after the onset of World War II. The bombers she is referring to are the Luftwaffe. During WWII, London and other Allied cities were bombed heavily by the Luftwaffe under Hitler's orders.


Vanessa Bell

"She has left a not ... for Vanessa." (pg. 1)

Vanessa Bell was Virginia Woolf's older sister and close friend. Vanessa was an artist but never achieved much critical notice. Married to Clive Bell, Vanessa had several extramarital affairs with members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Roger Fry and Duncan Grant. Although she never published any works, she was also a talented writer who wrote many letters to her sister and friends.


Leonard Woolf

"She had left a note for Leonard..." (pg. 1)

Leonard Woolf was Virginia Woolf's husband and close friend. He married her in 1912 and the two soon became the center of The Bloomsbury Group. Like his wife, Leonard Woolf was a writer and enjoyed all things intellectual. He started the Hogarth Press, which published works by fellow Bloomsbury Group-er T.S. Elliot, and wrote many autobiographies and several political works. He died in 1969.