Clarissa Dalloway: Deconstruction of the Feminine Ideal Analytical Essay by kirst

Clarissa Dalloway: Deconstruction of the Feminine Ideal
This essay analyzes Virginia Woolf's, Mrs. Dalloway, and women's roles in it.
# 4918 | 2,365 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2001 | US
Published on May 29, 2002 in Literature (English) , English (Argument) , English (Analysis) , Women Studies (General)

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This essay examines the ideological roles of women in society. Clarissa Dalloway's unhappiness in marriage reflects defiance in the social ideal. Clarissa's marriage to Richard Dalloway is an action, which supposedly, should make her feel complete. Instead, marriage contributes to her sense of non-being. Clarissa's internal and external state of being is analyzed in the first section of the essay. This section looks at Woolf's narrative technique. Woolf uses juxtaposition of male, female; internal, external thought to highlight Clarissa's inability to act upon desire. The second topic of analysis in the essay is Clarissa's loss of identity. Clarissa becomes "Mrs.Dalloway" and defines herself by her new title. She plays the role that is expected in her social group. Though she works hard to maintain the perfect image she is not truly happy with her life. The third part of the essay examines Clarissa's interest in alternative lifestyles as a result of her unhappiness. Clarissa dreams about achieving goals that are unheard of for women of the time. She thinks about alternative relationships with both men and women. Though to weak to act upon such thoughts, Clarissa expresses defiance through her desire. Clarissa's internal resistance is intimately connected to the ideology of her social system.

From the Paper:

"In Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, the actions, thoughts and experiences of Clarissa Dalloway reflect the pressures on women to play ideological roles in society. Clarissa is an upper class mother, wife and hostess, whose thoughts and desires challenge her domestic role. She is not happy, yet she chooses to maintain the illusion of happiness in her life as a means of survival in a society that shuns independent women. Woolf's narrative serves to deconstruct the politics of gender and masculine privilege through Clarissa's internal discontent. Clarissa Dalloway is externally controlled by the dominant systems of belief in her high-class society. Clarissa's internal resistance to social order is apparent in her state of division, loss of identity, and interest in alternative lifestyles. Through the social interactions and thoughts of Clarissa Dalloway, the ideological and the internal are intimately connected."

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