Hello all! My name is Drew Blanchette. I'm 21 years old and a class member of the Virginia Woolf Seminar. First and foremost, I must warn potential viewers that I have no knowledge of Virginia Woolf's work. I am hoping that as the class progresses and I have a chance to read her apparently fabulous works (or so I have been told) I will develop some knowledge and appreciation. As my blogs increase perhaps the reader will pick up on my progression! Hopefully whoever looks over my site will enjoy my posts and not be too bored by my analyzing attempts. Thanks ahead of time for viewing my site!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Passes

The Time Passes section in To the Lighthouse is a complete change from The Window section. People seem to have disappeared. In The Window time was stretched out into a long passage, spanning over one afternoon. However, in Time Passes, time really does pass, ten years in fact, in a short passage. It was interesting to encounter Virginia writing over a span of time. Much of her writing seems to be condensed to short moments that seem so much longer in the minds of the characters. Going back to what was discussed about velocity, there is a sense of uncontrollable or even rational thought towards how time works. Time is not a tangible thing, it is psychological for people. A moment can last for hours or seem like a wisp in time. Everyone is living by their own clocks and their own time.
I got the impression that people weren’t very important in Time Passes. Earlier in the novel, so much had been focused on the inner workings of the characters’ minds. But in this section, whether there are people present or not, there is an absence of human life. There is something there though. The wind and the dust and the things that surround us on our day to day journeys are always present. I found that interesting because they are the things that people tend to find to have no intense value or importance in the grand scheme of life. They are a passing thought or comment, for sure, but they are ignored. It is ironic because in the end they will outlast us. They are more important to the world because they are the everlasting components that make the world go around to say. Mr. Ramsay with his philosophy will be forgotten as will Lily’s paintings at some point.
I mentioned this is in my post about Miss Ormerod…Virginia is fascinated or maybe terrified by the impact of the human print. So many of her characters are living day to day worrying about staying around after they are gone while they should be focusing on the important things. Her characters are always making mistakes, which is fine because that is what people do anyway in real life.
The reader gets the harsh reality that death is sudden and does not necessarily live that much of an impact as we would like to think it would. We would hope that there will be some to mourn our death, but in the end the ones that mourn for us will be forgotten and with them we are gone in the dust. The dust in the house that the housekeeper cleans away seems to be a reminder that that is what we will all become at one point. An indistinguishable particle that has nothing to say for itself and means nothing to anyone. It is dust, it is there, but it’s just dust.
I know my posts are always slightly morbid, but so is Virginia. She chooses these subjects and they are not light ones. Whatever joys she found in life, there aren’t many reflected in her work. I do find it ironic that she makes death out as such a depressing end in all and that everyone will be forgotten while she is writing a novel that is about her dead parents quite frequently.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mrs. Dalloway

How does Leonard feel about Virginia’s opinions on marriage?  I wouldn’t call her opinion gracious or even optimistic on the union of man and woman.  In Jacob’s Room she has her main character depicted as a slight womanizer, in Miss Ormerod she respects her for being single, in Mrs. Dalloway her main character has chosen marriage for ease and comfort and not for love.  I do understand that when someone writes a novel they aren’t necessarily writing about themselves, but then again, how can anyone forget themselves?  There isn’t exactly a pure trend in any of works other than her seemingly grudge towards marriage.  Another quick example would be in A Room of One’s Own..didn’t Virginia claim that the only way a woman can write is if she has an income from some type of source and a place that she owns personally?  It would seem that Virginia respects single women.  I know that she was married later in life considering the time period that she lived in.  But I also know that she had an affair with someone named Vita?  I realize this is going off on a tangent but I since our entire seminar is focused around Virginia it would make sense to know the woman behind the writing.
                Peter strikes me as a self conscious individual. Why? Well, perhaps it comes from Peter showing up on Mrs. Dalloway’s doorstep seeking something, even after their relationship ended 30 years ago.  Furthermore, he can’t help but to criticize Mrs. Dalloway in his mind while he doesn’t focus on the person he should, himself.  He thinks that she has aged and yet he links himself to a younger crowd, being unwilling to accept his own aging.  As he follows the unknown young woman through the streets of London it echoes Peter’s own disillusionment about his path in life. He is older and yet he doesn’t feel accomplished or has found his true passion. According to Mrs. Dalloway he didn’t follow through with his dreams, and perhaps his walk through London shows his confusion about how to find his own route by himself.   
                In a way, Mrs. Dalloway is presented as a sad character.  She wants to give her life purpose by completing the small day to day tasks that she can do, but in reality she doesn’t have to do anything.  Mrs. Dalloway could sit in a chair and command her servants, and she would never have to lift a finger.  However, the reader gets the sense that she isn’t content to be lazy and unproductive.  The first line in the novel that states she will get the flowers herself seems to emphasize her desire for independence and purpose.  I get the impression that Virginia pities Mrs. Dalloway because she was unable to follow her own path.  Instead, Mrs. Dalloway decided to conform and take the easiest, respectable choice.  The reader knows that Mrs. Dalloway has an adventurous side to her that she has beaten down for so long.  Mrs. Dalloway kissed a woman and was thrilled by the experience.  She also enjoys Peter but turns him down because she knows he would be an unsafe choice.  Mrs. Dalloway is sadly her own person, but she has made herself into just another woman of her time. She had the potential to be special and unique, but she was too scared to act on her desires. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Miss Ormerod

A whirlwind, a snapshot of one woman's life. A brief glimpse that is meant to capture a whole person. The greatness of life and also the...perhaps existentialist reality of life all at the same time?

My thoughts are confused and I just had to write my first immediate thoughts after reading.

This will be the last time that I claim that I'm confused, but I am. I can't help it. The story was so jumbled, which makes me angry because I know in the madness there is so much sanity. Her writing is a puzzle with missing pieces and she expects you to figure out the intention of the lost fragments. The fact that one can even realize what she must be intending proves her great ability at capturing human nature. Her depictions of people's actions and reactions are so dead-on to reality that it gives me chills. There are those moments in life where you find yourself having an epiphany about something-I'm not sure what the moment is, it's different for everyone-but they don't happen that often and they are hard to describe and translate to the world. Woolf seems to have the genius of so many epiphanies and the ability to transcribe them and then the power to jumble them up into a riddle to play with our minds.

Miss Ormerod's life was made from the insects and the insects made her. They are interchangeable. At once, the insects are nothing. Their lives are pointless. The death of the swimming beetle means nothing. Even as he is ripped apart, it is just another part of nature. Miss Ormerod was an important figure in the insect world, and yet when she dies she will just be another fragment of time. Her true identity lost. All that is left is her name and her accomplishments, her contributions, but nothing else. The woman is gone forever. Her grave stone epigraph might signify her connection with the insects and how they will be the only thing that will be left of her in the endless years to come. I believe Woolf wanted her Eleanor to know the reality of death and the inevitable: at one point you will be forgotten and therefore your existence gone.

There is a morbid tone to the story. I wouldn't want to throw out the word depressing, instead I feel a detachment. It is an acceptance of reality and the perhaps the true meaning behind life. A person’s life is fleeting and another small part of the world. But there is the reassurance that Eleanor followed her own path. Her happiness came from her passion and therefore even if she is forgotten in the sands of time, she has still won. As people mocked her climbing in trees and found her odd, they weren't realizing that they were losing the precious moments of their life. Their conformity and the fear of criticisms and judgments seem to signify a waste.

Woolf’s fascination with nature and the connections that many people are blind to is very interesting. Woolf knows how we are all so much more connected than the average person can realize. It is obvious that she respected Ormerod for her passion.

The separation of the sections, or the “snapshots”, as we talked about earlier in class, are the brief insights we are allowed of Miss Ormerod. The reader is allowed so much and yet so little. Actions and dialogue let the reader learn the character, we are given nothing for free. Woolf wants to make her reader work, which I find myself loving and hating all at the same time. I have never been so frustrated by a writer before in my lifetime. I think I actually get mad at her sometimes.