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A comparison of The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway

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Symantha Hankins

on 1 December 2014

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Transcript of A comparison of The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway

Comparing
The Hours
and
Mrs. Dalloway
Micheal Cunningham does a wonderful job incorporating key aspects of
Mrs. Dalloway
into his modern re-telling called
The Hours.
The Hours
Laura Brown- the story's third main character. She is a Los Angeles housewife in 1949.
Richie- Laura's 3 year old son
Dan Brown- a war hero and Laura's husband
Kitty and Ray-a married couple, and Laura's next-door neighbors
The Characters
Virginia Woolf
- the novelist who wrote Mrs. Dalloway, also one of the main characters in Cunningham's novel
Leonard Woolf
- Virginia'a husband, and is editor and publisher at Hogarth Press
Nelly
- a cook who works for Virginia
Vanessa Bell
- Virginia's sister
Julian, Quentin, and Angelica
- Vanessa's Children
Clarissa Vaughn
- the novel's second main character. She is a bisexual editor who lives in New York city. Richard's nickname for her is "Mrs. Dalloway"
Richard Brown
- a writer who is Clarissa's ex-lover and best friend and is dying of AIDS
Sally
-Clarrissa's girlfriend of 18 years, and is a producer on public tv
Louis
- an old friend of Clarissa's and Richard's who lost touch with them when he moved to San Francisco to teach drama
Julia- Clarissa's 19 year old daughter, and is not as close as Clarissa would like them to be
Mary Krull- friend of Julia's who is also in love with Julia
Walter Hardy and Evan- lovers, and friends of Clarissa's and Richard's
Oliver St. Ives- Sally's friend who is also a movie star
Mrs. Dalloway
The Characters
Clarissa Dalloway- the main character. She is a housewife in her 50s living in London
Richard Dalloway- Clarissa's husband who is a member of Parliament
Peter Walsh- An old close friend of Clarissa's, who after being rejected by Clarissa moves to India
Sally Seton- another old and close friend of Clarissa. She and Clarissa once shared a kiss that stayed with Clarissa. She is now married and has "three huge boys"
Elizabeth Dalloway- Clarissa's and Richard's 17 year old daughter
Doris Kilman- Elizabeth's history teacher, who loves Elizabeth


Septimus Warren Smith- the second main character in the novel, he is a World War I vet suffering from shell shock
Lucrezia Smith-Septimus's Italian hat making wife
Sir Willian Bradshaw-the psychiatrist that Dr. Holmes refers Lucrezia to
Dr. Holmes- Septimus's doctor
Evans- Septimus's wartime friend, who died in the war
Mrs. Filmer- Septimus's neighbor
Hugh and Evelyn Whitbread- Clarissa's old friends, Evelyn is often sick and in nursing homes
Lady Burton- a friend of the Dalloways
Miss Helena Parry- Clarissa's aunt
Ellie Henderson- Clarissa's cousin who does not fit in with Clarissa's high society friends
Jim Hutton- a poet at the Dalloway's party
Daisy Simmons- Peter Walsh's love who lives in India
Comparison of Characters
The Hours
Mrs. Dalloway
In the Hours, Clarissa Vaughn is very much like her counterpart Mrs. Dalloway. Vaughn has begun to question her life choices. With a thought pattern similar to Mrs. Dalloway, both wonder if they chose the right person to spend their lives with, and both wonder about the mysteries of death. But Vaughn differs from Mrs. Dalloway because she chose to not to be with Richard and ended up with Sally. Also, both Clarissas are throwing parties in Richards honor and both chose the same flowers.
Clarissa Vaughn vs Clarissa Dalloway
Richard Brown vs Septimus Warren Smith
While both of these characters are suffering from mental illnesses, their diagnosis is different. Septimus Smith is suffering from shell shock; Richard Brown is suffering from AIDS. Unlike Septimus, Richard does know Clarissa, and actually kills himself in front of her (Cunningham 119). Where as Mrs. Dalloway only hears of Septiumus's suicide. Both characters see in the beauty in life, and neither wants to die.
Louis vs Peter Walsh
Louis and Peter Walsh were both involved in love triangles between Clarissa and Richard. Although Louis was in love with Richard, and in
Mrs. Dalloway
Peter was in love with Clarissa. Both of them lost touch when they moved away: Louis to San Francisco, Peter to India. Louis, unlike Peter, comes back specifically for Clarissa's party. But both do attend their respected Clarissa's party.
Julia and Mary Krull vs Elizabeth Dalloway and Doris Kilman
Julia and Elizabeth are both daughters of Clarissa, and both have friends that their mothers do not approve of (Mary and Doris). But their personalities differ. In The Hours, Julia wears combat boots, has a shaved head, and her counter part, Mary, is a lesbian activist. Where as in Mrs. Dalloway Elizabeth spends a good deal of her time in pray, and Doris is a history teacher. Both Julia and Elizabeth are independt and neither are close to their mothers.
Sally vs Richard Dalloway
In The Hours, Clarissa ends up with Sally instead of Richard, but Sally has a lot of characteristics similar to Mr. Dalloway. Just like Richard, Sally goes to lunch with a old friend and is independent from Clarissa (Cunningham 173). Similar to Richard, at this lunch, Sally is struck with how much she cares about Clarissa and buys her flowers on her way home (Cunningham 182, Woolf loc 98).
Themes
The Hours
and
Mrs. Dalloway

Both Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours deal with the theme of death, although each novel handles the subject differently. In The Hours, each of the three main characters contemplates suicide for different reasons. Virginia is afraid that she is losing control over her mental illness, and views suicide as an escape. And throughout the novel is contemplating having Mrs. Dalloway kill herself in her novel. These contemplations reflect Virginia's own struggle against suicide. Laura feels that she does belong in her life as a housewife. She sees suicide as a comfort, knowing that "it is possible to stop living" (Cunningham 152). And Clarissa witnesses her friend commit suicide, and is ofter looking in the past wondering if her best days are behind her.
Death
Social Roles
Mrs. Dalloway differs in the way it handles the theme of death. For Mrs. Dalloway knowing that this life will come to an end is comforting for her. And much like Clarissa in The Hours, she sees her youth as the best times in her life. Septimus is also obsessed with death, but he sees the beauty in living life, but he fears that the doctors will take his autonomy away, and in an act to stay free kills himself.
In both Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours, the characters grapple with fufilling social roles, and what that means to them. In The Hours, Virginia struggles with her mental illness. When her sister comes to visit, she wonders why she can not be the authorative head of house like her sister is, and why can not properly manage Nelly. Clarissa grapples with quite-ness and heteronormitity of her domestic partnership with Sally, She wonders if making safe choices was the right thing to do, and wonders what her life would have been like if she would have stayed with Richard. Laura pushes the hardest against the social roles she's placed in. She is severely unhappy with her mundane life as a house wife. She reflects that she married her husband out of a sense of obligation, and constantly questions if she will ever find happiness in her role.
But Septimus's suicide and Richard's suicide are similar. Both of those characters saw the beauty in the life around them, and both of them wished that they could live freely in the world. But both of them, with oppressors on their doorsteps (Septimus's in the form of the doctors, and Richards in the form of complications from AIDS), decided to kill themselves to remain free.
On her walk to the flower shop, Mrs. Dalloway contemplates her life and how she is always seeking to please other and how she wants everyone to like her. She wonders what it would be like to not care of others opinions. She, like Clarissa Vaughn, wonders what it would have been like if she would have married a different person and not made safe decisions. Septimus does not want to conform to what the doctors are telling him to do. He doesn't see his illness the way that they do, similar to how Virginia see's her own illness in The Hours.


Similar Plot Points
Both Clarissas go to purchase their own flowers for their parties
Both parties are to honor Richard
While in the flower shop, both Clarissas see a car with a famous person inside of it
Both are interrupted with party plans by person of their past, Peter and Louis
Both Richard and Sally have lunch without Clarissa
Both purchase flowers as a token of their love
Both of their parties bring ghosts from the past
Both Clarissas speak with their daughter's friend that they dislike
Conclusion
Micheal Cunninham does a wonderful job incorporating the characters, themes, and plot-points of Mrs. Dalloway into his own modern re-telling, The Hours.
Richard's Suicide
Clarissa and Sall Kiss
Mrs. Dalloway
The Hours
Virginia speaks of her mental illness
The Hours
Bibliography
Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. New York: Picador USA.2002. Print.
The Hours. Dir. Stephen Daldry. Paramount Pictures. 2002. Film
Mrs. Dalloway. Dir. Marleen Gorris. First Look International. 1997. Film
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print
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