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The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection

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Zoe Kwok

on 19 March 2013

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Transcript of The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection

The Lady in the Looking Glass:
A Reflection Summary Narrator Thank You :) Woolf uses this 'story' to explore how truth is portrayed, warning readers not to seek to know too much
Throughout the story, the narrator attempts to learn more about the character of Isabella Tyson by exploring facts, figures, figurative comparisons and making speculative comments- however, none of them lead to the truth
In the end, when Isabella reaches the looking glass, she is stripped away of the "unessential and superficial", revealing her to be "perfectly empty"
Anonymous, un-gendered narrator
"One"- indefinite, unspecified pronoun
Narrated in the third person
Stream-of-consciousness style
Story is told as though the reader acts as the narrator's eyes- many small details are included, immersing the reader in to the story
By Zoe Kwok Virginia Woolf Born in to a privileged English Household
One of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century
Non-Linear, free-form prose style: stream of consciousness
Studied German, Greek and Latin at the Ladies’ Department of King’s College London
Mood swings and bouts of deep depression: committed suicide
Established herself as both an intellectual and an innovative thinker and writer
Compelling and unusual narrative perspectives, dream-states and free association prose
Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927),The Waves (1931)
Structure Beginning of the story:
Represents reality, where everything is changing and moving
All verbs are in present tense
See things through the looking glass:
Still, static
Lacks life and tenacity
Isabella is out of the frame until the end, when she reaches the mirror, all speculations of her are gone, and she is left with nothing
First sentence = closing sentence
sense of circularity?
Characters Isabella Tyson: Used as a construct, a device
We learn random details about her, like the fact that she was a spinster, and that she was rich, this is all shown through speculation and random facts
Nothing personal is really revealed
However, as Isabella looks through the looking glass, we begin to learn more about her- or rather, her lack of substance
"Isabella did not wish to be known"
People are imposing readings on her, but she is not real, she is just a character
"Isabella was perfectly empty. She had no thoughts. She had no friends. She cared for nobody. As for her letters, they were all bills."
Climax Lack of plot in the story- not very climatic?
"A large black form loomed into the looking-glass; blotted out everything, strewed the table with a packet of marble tablets veined with pink and grey, and was gone...The man had brought the post."
Build up of tension, seemingly dark and climatic- but falls in to the ordinary once again Themes Truth:
Found in the ordinary and simple moments, not in great twisted plots
By the end of the story, Isabella Tyson is stripped of her cover, of being a rich, traveling spinster with many friends. It is revealed that she is in fact empty and has nothing, with no thoughts and no friends, caring for nobody. This is because she is nobody, she is just a static entity
Danger of Imagination:
Readers imposing readings on to characters and story- holds no truth
Literary Devices Mirror:
Acts as a metaphor for the art form- literature, writing etc.
Once Isabella steps in to the frame of the mirror, she is frozen and stripped bare
Artists cannot create real, breathing, moving characters- fiction will always be limiting
"At once the looking-glass began to pour over her a light that seemed to fix her; that seemed like some acid to bite off the unessential and superficial and to leave only the truth. "
" A large black form loomed into the looking-glass; blotted out everything, strewed the table with a packet of marble tablets veined with pink and grey, and was gone. But the picture was entirely altered...The man had brought the post."
Slightly comedic and humorous
Shows the ordinariness of life, and the truth in it
What you think the author hoped a reader would experience Author used the story as a way to criticise the academic way of reading
Warn readers about the dangers of imagination
The more readers try and read in to a character, the less they know about them
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