Publication details

Big Ben as an Uncanny Omen of Death in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway



Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Virginia Woolf tells the fascinating story of her characters that live only one day. Their lives are connected to each other and to the city of London. It has its own agency that helps to develop the characters in original ways. This paper attempts to analyse the uncanny powers of London´s famous historic sights with a special emphasis on the clock Big Ben. Although being an inanimate object, it still has features, which can present it as a living thing. It is the movement of its hands or tolling of the bell that seemingly makes it alive. It also has a great impact on the lives of the characters. In Mrs Dalloway, the clock not only measures the time, it also blurs the lines between present and past, between life and death. It brings back to life many of the Shakespearean characters that enter the fictional reality of Virginia Woolf´s book for this special day. As Big Ben repeatedly tolls the hours, Clarissa revives Shakespeare by repeating the lines from Cymbeline. While the clock reminds Clarissa of her own mortality, she embraces Shakespeare as a coping strategy that helps her deal with death. The aim of this paper is to analyze Mrs Dalloway as a story of human struggle where Big Ben takes the function of a death omen and Shakespeare’s characters that already experienced the process of dying in many ways offer knowledge and relief for Clarissa who struggles to cope with her own issues of mortality.
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