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Stream of Consciousness
Narrative Technique
Virginia Woolf’s
To The Lighthouse
In this presentation, we will learn. . .
• What is Stream of Consciousness?
– It’s origin
– It’s constituent parts
• Virginia Woolf and ingenious use of this
technique
– Interior Monologue
– Parenthesis
– Free Associations
• Illustrations with explanation from ‘To The
Lighthouse’
Stream of Consciousness
• . . . was a phrase used by William James in his
Principles of Psychology (1890) to describe the
unbroken flow of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings in
the waking mind.
• It has since been adopted to describe a narrative
method in modern fiction.
• Long passages of introspection, in which the narrator
records in detail what passes through a character's
awareness, are found in novelists from Samuel
Richardson, through William James’ brother Henry
James, to many novelists of the present era.
• (A Glossary of Literary Terms – M.H. Abrams)
Stream of Consciousness
• . . . is the name applied specifically to a
mode of narration that undertakes to
reproduce, without a narrator's
intervention, the full spectrum and continuous
flow of a character's mental process, in which
sense perceptions mingle with conscious and
half-conscious
thoughts, memories, expectations, feelings, an
d random associations.
• (A Glossary of Literary Terms – M.H. Abrams)
Interior Monologue
• . . . used interchangeably with Stream of
Consciousness.
• is reserved for that species of stream of
consciousness which undertakes to present to
the reader the course and rhythm of
consciousness precisely as it occurs in a
character‘s mind.
Interior Monologue
• In . . . the author does not intervene, or at any
rate intervenes minimally, as
describer, guide, or commentator, and does
not tidy the vagaries of the mental process
into grammatical sentences or into a logical or
coherent order.
Interior Monologue
• . . . in its radical form, is sometimes described
as the exact presentation of the process of
consciousness; but because sense
perceptions, mental images, feelings, and
some aspects of thought itself are
nonverbal, it is clear that the author can
present these elements only by converting
them into some kind of verbal equivalent.
two basic types of interior monologues
• Direct interior monologue is that type of interior
monologue which is represented with negligible author
interference and with no auditor assumed. An
examination of its special methods reveals: that it
presents consciousness directly to the reader with
negligible author interference; that is, there is either a
complete or near-complete disappearance of the
author from the page, together with his guiding such as
“he said” and “he thought” and with his explanatory
comments.
• (Yanxia Sang, An Analysis of Stream-of-Consciousness
Technique in To the Lighthouse)
Direct Interior Monologue
• It should be emphasized that there is no auditor
assumed; that is, the character is not speaking to
anyone within the fictional scene; nor is the character
speaking, in effect, to the reader (as the speaker of a
stage monologue is, for example).
• In short the monologue is represented as being
completely candid, as if there were no reader. This
distinction is not easy to grasp, but it is a real one.
Obviously, every author is writing, finally, for an
audience.
• The interior monologue proceeds in spite of the
reader’s expectations of conventional syntax and
diction in order to represent the actual texture of
consciousness--in order to represent it
finally, however, to the reader. (Yanxia Sang)
Indirect Interior Monologue
• . . . is, then, that type of interior monologue in which
an omniscient author presents unspoken material as
if it were directly from the consciousness of a
character and, with commentary and
description, guides the reader through it.
• It differs from direct interior monologue basically in
that the author intervenes between the character’s
psyche and the reader.
• The author is an on-the-screen guide for the reader.
It retains the fundamental quality of interior
monologue in that what it presents of consciousness
is direct; that is, it is in the idiom and with the
peculiarities of the character’s psychic processes.
The Basic Difference . . .
• . . . between the two techniques is that indirect
monologue gives to the reader a sense of the
author’s continuous presence; whereas direct
monologue either completely or largely excludes
it.
• This difference in turn admits of special
differences, such as the use of third or second
person point of view instead of first person; the
wider use of descriptive and expository methods
to present the monologue; and the possibility of
greater coherence and of greater surface unity
through selection of materials.
Some Modern Novels
• James Joyce developed a variety of devices for stream-of-
consciousness narrative in Ulysses (1922)
• Dorothy Richardson sustains a stream-of-consciousness
mode of narrative, focused exclusively on the mind and
perceptions of her heroine, throughout the twelve volumes
of her novel Pilgrimage (1915-38)
• Virginia Woolf employs the procedure as a
primary, although not exclusive, narrative mode in several
novels, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the
Lighthouse (1927); and
• William Faulkner exploits it brilliantly in the first three of
the four parts of The Sound and the Fury (1929)
Virginia Woolf
• Virginia Woolf was interested in giving voice to the
complex inner world of feeling and memory and
conceived the human personality as a continuous
shift of impressions and emotions.
• So the events that traditionally made up a story
were no longer important for her; what mattered
was the impression they made on the characters
who experienced them.
• In her novels the omniscient narrator disappeared
and the point of view shifted inside the characters’
minds through flashbacks, associations of
ideas, momentarily impressions presented as a
continuous flux.
Indirect Interior Monologue in To the Lighthouse
• Virginia Woolf, among the stream-of-consciousness
writers, relies most on the indirect interior monologue and
she uses it with great skill.
• In To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf succeeds in producing a
much subtle effect through the use of this technique.
• This novel contains a great deal of straight, conventional
narration and description, but the interior monologue is used
often enough to give the novel its special character of
seeming to be always within the consciousness of the chief
characters.
• Virginia Woolf, in her essay, Modern Fiction: “Let us record
the atom as they fall upon the mind in the order in which
they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and
incoherent in appearances, which each sight or incident
scores upon the consciousness.”
Virginia Woolf
• . . . In Modern Fiction (1919):
• “Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The
mind receives a myriad of impressions –
trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of
steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of
innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves
into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from
of old; the moment of importance came to here but there; so
that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write
what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon
his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no
plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the
accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the
Bond Street sailors would have it.
Illustrations from To The Lighthouse
• Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr
Ramsay excited in his children’s breasts by his
mere presence; standing, as now, lean as a
knife, narrow as the blade of one, grinning
sarcastically, not only with the pleasure of
disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon
his wife, who was ten thousand times better in
every way than he was (James thought), but also
with some secret conceit at his own accuracy of
judgement. What he said was true. It was
always true. (Pg. 1)
Explanation of textual quote
• In the previous slide, use of bracket is quite
significant as it proves that the ongoing
description of the character Mr. Ramsay is not
narrated by narrator but its thought process of
little James.
• The above passage illustrates the occasionally
baffling similarity between a narrator’s utterance
and omniscient-narrator commentary.
• Narrator steps aside but soon comes to give the
comment: ‘What he said was true . . .”
Let us examine the following passage in the first
chapter of part one.
• “…For how would you like to be shut up for a whole
month at a time, and possibly more in stormy
weather, upon a rock the size of a tennis lawn? She
would ask; and to have no letters and
newspapers, and to see nobody; if you were
married, not to see your wife, not to know how your
children were, --if they were ill, if they had fallen
down and broken their legs or arms; to see the same
dreary waves breaking week after week, and then a
dreadful storm coming, and the windows covered
with spray, and birds dashed against the lamp, and
the whole place rocking, and not be able to put your
nose out of doors for fear of being swept into the
sea? How would you like that? She asked, …(p.2)
Explanation of textual quote
• The passage above is represented in the manner of
straight narration by the author,
– but it is clearly what the character feels and thinks, and it
reflects the character’s consciousness and inner thought.
– In this passage, Woolf facilitates the indirect interior
monologue with her unique skills.
– Firstly, she uses the conjunction “for” as an indication of the
beginning of this monologue and produces an easy and
natural shift from objective description to the character’s
interior monologue.
– Secondly she presents Mrs. Ramsay’s consciousness by the
guiding phrases “she would ask” and “she asked” to make the
reader wonder about unhurriedly in Mrs. Ramsay’s
consciousness.
– Thirdly, here she employs semicolons to indicate the
continuation of the consciousness. The use of semicolons
characterizes Woolf’s skill in dealing with indirect interior
monologue. (Yanxia Sang)
Illustration from the text
• “Yes, he did say disagreeable things, Mrs.
Ramsay admitted; it was odious of him to rub
this in, and make James still more
disappointed; but at the same time, she would
not let them laugh at him. ‘The atheist’, they
called him; ‘the little atheist’, Rose mocked
him; Prue mocked him; Andrew, Jasper, Roger
mocked him; even old Badger without a tooth
in his head had bit him, …” (p.2)
Explanation of textual quote
• The above passage illustrates the occasionally baffling
similarity between a narrator’s utterance and omniscient-
narrator commentary.
• It demonstrates, however, how punctuation can
wonderfully signal the continuation of consciousness
sometimes.
• The extraordinary subtlety of her skill here is located in
the use of the semicolons after “they called him”. Had she
not placed a semicolon there, the reader might easily be
misled to think that the sentence “but at the same
time, she would not let them laugh at him” is an
omniscient-narrator commentary.
• So in this passage, with the help of semicolons, the reader
can easily discern what is the character’s interior
monologue and when it begins and halts. (Yanxia Sang)
Use of Parenthesis
• Parentheses can be signals of digression and
of simultaneity as this one:
• “Teaching and preaching is beyond human
power, Lily suspected. (She was putting away
her things.)”(p.32)
Use of Parenthesis
• Parentheses can also be little
asides, explanations, pointers to what is going on. Lily
in this passage is thinking about Mr. Bankes:
• “I respect you (she addressed him silently)in every
atom; you are not vain; you are entirely impersonal;
you are finer than Mr. Ramsay; you are the finest
human being that I know; you have neither wife nor
child (without any sexual feeling, she longed to cherish
that loneliness), you live for science
(involuntarily, sections of potatoes rose before her
eyes); praise would be an insult to you; generous, pure-
hearted, heroic man! (p.16-17)
Explanation
• Here the parentheses signal sudden and
momentary switches in perspective. The narrative
is thrown backwards and forwards between Lily’s
voice, with its intonation mimicked exactly. Lily’s
dwelling on the austerity of Bankes’ life indicates
not only Bankes’ desire for solitude, but also
hers---and at the same time shows her resistance
to her own loneliness. She wants at once to
extend and to limit, to see more of Bankes and
less of herself.
Explanation
• This conflict is represented in the simultaneous
development of two registers: the succession of main
clauses inscribing Lily’s voice, and the little interruptions of
the parentheses, at the corner of Lily’s eye.
• The final set of brackets describes a sudden obstruction of
her vision: the rising of potatoes before her eyes. Yet this
obstruction too is part of the movement of her thought: it
is her habit to conceptualize intellectual disciplines as
material objects (“She always saw, when she thought of Mr.
Ramsay’s work, a scrubbed kitchen table.”) (p.16)
• Obviously the parentheses help render the inner world of
Lily more exactly clearly and help present us with the exact
condition of consciousness. (Yanxia Sang)
Illustration
• ‘Such expeditions’, said Mr. Ramsay, scraping
the ground with his toe, ‘are very painful.’ Still
Lily said nothing. (She is a stock, she is a
stone, he said to himself.) ‘They are very
exhausting,’ he said, looking, with a sickly look
that nauseated her (he was acting, she
felt, this great man was dramatizing
himself), at his beautiful hands. (p. 106)
Explanation
• Here again the parentheses act as signals of
perspective. They are the demarcation lines
between omniscient narration and interior
monologue.
• With the help of brackets, Woolf makes an
easy and clear transition between the two.
And this is one of the indications of her
sophistication in artistry.
Use of Parenthesis in Time Passes and The Lighthouse
• [Mr. Ramsay, stumbling along a passage one dark
morning, stretched his arms out, but Mrs Ramsay
having died rather suddenly the night before, his
arms, though stretched out, remained empty.] (Pg 91)
• [Prue Ramsay, leaning on her father’s arm, was given in
marriage. What, people said, could have been more
fitting? And, they added, how beautiful she looked!]
(pg 93)
• *Macalister’s boy took one of the fish and cut a square
out of its side to bait his hook with. The mutilated body
(it was alive still) was thrown back into the sea.]
Explanation
• Each set of sentences in brackets in the earlier section
contains violence, death, and the destruction of
potential; the short, stabbing accounts accentuate the
brutality of these events.
• But in Chapter VI of “The Lighthouse,” the purpose of
the brackets changes from indicating violence and
death to violence and potential survival.
• Whereas in “Time Passes,” the brackets surround
Prue’s death in childbirth and Andrew’s perishing in
war, in “The Lighthouse” they surround the “mutilated”
but “alive still” body of a fish. (SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on To the
Lighthouse.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.)
• With her unique devices such as guiding
phrases, semicolons, and parentheses
embroidered to her interior
monologue, Virginia Woolf successfully
overcomes the shortcomings of stream-of-
consciousness novel of being incoherent and
chaotic, and achieves great
explicitness, coherence, vividness and surface
unity in presenting the characters’ inner
world. (Yanxia Sang)
Technique of Free Association in To
The Lighthouse
• The chief technique in controlling the
movement of stream-of-consciousness in
fiction has been an application of the
principles of psychological free association.
The Aesthetic Significance. . .
• First, the free association technique extends the scope and
the levels the writing expresses and makes it possible for
the writers to deal as much as possible the characters’
subjective experience within fairly narrow objective time-
space scope.
• Second, the free association technique breaks out the
traditional narrative structure. By the help of this
technique, the characters may think about others upon
seeing related things, recall old memories at familiar sights
and think of another thing or person upon seeing one; the
consciousness may shift freely among present, past and
future, or from one place to another. During the process of
the association, the objective time and the psychic time
intermingle; the past memories, the future expectation
and the present consciousness exist alternately; the result
of which is a structure of confusion in space-time and
disorder in sequence. (Yanxia Sang)
• Third, the free association technique may
have the effect of contrast and satire through
the writers bringing together the instances
happening at different time and different
places.
• Therefore this technique is essential for the
writers to depict the real world of the
consciousness.
Three Factors That Control the
Association
• first, the memory, which is its basis;
second, the senses, which guide it; and
third, the imagination, which determines its
elasticity”.
Free Association In To the Lighthouse
• In To the Lighthouse, Woolf usually encloses free
association into the indirect interior monologue to
represent the psychic processes of her characters.
We may take the 7-10th chapters of the first part
of To the Lighthouse as an example:
• The continuity of the section is established
through an exterior occurrence involving Mrs.
Ramsay and James:
• Mrs. Ramsay tells James the story of the
Fisherman’s Wife. (Yanxia Sang)
Illustration of Free Association
• Another remarkable example perches in the
twelfths chapter in the last part of To the
Lighthouse. In this chapter, Lily Briscoe, the
artist, while watching the sea, feels her mind
ebb and flow with it.
Conclusion
• By analyzing stream-of-consciousness
technique, we can find that indirect interior
monologue makes Woolf express the
character’s inner world in such great
coherence and surface unity.
• Her presentation of the characters’ interior
monologue is not only coherent in
meaning, but also conventional in
appearance.
Conclusion
• Her use of indirect interior monologue allows the
narrator to reveal the characters’ flow of
thoughts and takes the reader into the
consciousness of the characters in the novel.
• And free association makes the readers step into
the inner worlds of her characters by their
feelings, thoughts, memories, etc.
• So there is no question that Virginia Woolf is at
her best when she is writing her stream-of-
consciousness novels which deal with the
conscious, subconscious and even unconscious
part of her characters.
Conclusion
• Although the historical period when stream-of-
consciousness novel acted as a main trend in
literature has ended, the experimental
techniques adopted by the modernist writers
have further influence upon literary creation.
• Virginia Woolf’s individualized and experimental
art of fiction has offered significance not only in
studying the stream-of-consciousness fiction but
also in literary creation.
Acknowledgement
• Abram, M.H., A Glossary of Literary Terms.
• Sang, Yanxia, An Analysis of Stream-of-Consciousness Technique in To The
Lighthouse <
www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/download/7281/5627>
• Humprey, Robert. (1954). Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel. Berkeley:
University of California Press. p.24, p.43
• Woolf, Leonard, ED. (1966). Collected Essays. London: The Hogarth Press, pp.320-
321.
• Woolf, Virginia. (1966). “Modern Fiction” Collected Essays. London: Chatto and
Windus, p.104.
• Woolf, Virginia. (1994). To the Lighthouse. eBooks@Adelaide, The University of
Adelaide, Library University of Adelaide, South Australia.
• For Images:
– http://fineartamerica.com/
– http://julimize.com/
Additional Reading Resources
• Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds: Nanative Modes for
Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, 1978
• Leon Edel, The Modern Psychological Novel (1955, rev.
1964)
• Robert Humphrey, Stream of Consciousness the Modem
Novel (1954)
• Melvin Friedman, Stream of Consciousness: A Study Literary
Method (1955)
• William Jones, The Principles of Psychology. Vol 1 & 2
• Robert Humphrey. Stream of Consciousness in the Modern
Novel.
• Barry Dainton. Stream of Consciousness: Unity and
Continuity in Conscious Experience
Thank You
Compiled by:
Dilip Barad
Dept. of English
M.K. Bhavnagar University
Gujarat – India
dilipbarad@gmail.com
www.dilipbarad.com

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Stream of Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse'

  • 1. Stream of Consciousness Narrative Technique Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse
  • 2. In this presentation, we will learn. . . • What is Stream of Consciousness? – It’s origin – It’s constituent parts • Virginia Woolf and ingenious use of this technique – Interior Monologue – Parenthesis – Free Associations • Illustrations with explanation from ‘To The Lighthouse’
  • 3. Stream of Consciousness • . . . was a phrase used by William James in his Principles of Psychology (1890) to describe the unbroken flow of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings in the waking mind. • It has since been adopted to describe a narrative method in modern fiction. • Long passages of introspection, in which the narrator records in detail what passes through a character's awareness, are found in novelists from Samuel Richardson, through William James’ brother Henry James, to many novelists of the present era. • (A Glossary of Literary Terms – M.H. Abrams)
  • 4. Stream of Consciousness • . . . is the name applied specifically to a mode of narration that undertakes to reproduce, without a narrator's intervention, the full spectrum and continuous flow of a character's mental process, in which sense perceptions mingle with conscious and half-conscious thoughts, memories, expectations, feelings, an d random associations. • (A Glossary of Literary Terms – M.H. Abrams)
  • 5. Interior Monologue • . . . used interchangeably with Stream of Consciousness. • is reserved for that species of stream of consciousness which undertakes to present to the reader the course and rhythm of consciousness precisely as it occurs in a character‘s mind.
  • 6. Interior Monologue • In . . . the author does not intervene, or at any rate intervenes minimally, as describer, guide, or commentator, and does not tidy the vagaries of the mental process into grammatical sentences or into a logical or coherent order.
  • 7. Interior Monologue • . . . in its radical form, is sometimes described as the exact presentation of the process of consciousness; but because sense perceptions, mental images, feelings, and some aspects of thought itself are nonverbal, it is clear that the author can present these elements only by converting them into some kind of verbal equivalent.
  • 8. two basic types of interior monologues • Direct interior monologue is that type of interior monologue which is represented with negligible author interference and with no auditor assumed. An examination of its special methods reveals: that it presents consciousness directly to the reader with negligible author interference; that is, there is either a complete or near-complete disappearance of the author from the page, together with his guiding such as “he said” and “he thought” and with his explanatory comments. • (Yanxia Sang, An Analysis of Stream-of-Consciousness Technique in To the Lighthouse)
  • 9. Direct Interior Monologue • It should be emphasized that there is no auditor assumed; that is, the character is not speaking to anyone within the fictional scene; nor is the character speaking, in effect, to the reader (as the speaker of a stage monologue is, for example). • In short the monologue is represented as being completely candid, as if there were no reader. This distinction is not easy to grasp, but it is a real one. Obviously, every author is writing, finally, for an audience. • The interior monologue proceeds in spite of the reader’s expectations of conventional syntax and diction in order to represent the actual texture of consciousness--in order to represent it finally, however, to the reader. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 10. Indirect Interior Monologue • . . . is, then, that type of interior monologue in which an omniscient author presents unspoken material as if it were directly from the consciousness of a character and, with commentary and description, guides the reader through it. • It differs from direct interior monologue basically in that the author intervenes between the character’s psyche and the reader. • The author is an on-the-screen guide for the reader. It retains the fundamental quality of interior monologue in that what it presents of consciousness is direct; that is, it is in the idiom and with the peculiarities of the character’s psychic processes.
  • 11. The Basic Difference . . . • . . . between the two techniques is that indirect monologue gives to the reader a sense of the author’s continuous presence; whereas direct monologue either completely or largely excludes it. • This difference in turn admits of special differences, such as the use of third or second person point of view instead of first person; the wider use of descriptive and expository methods to present the monologue; and the possibility of greater coherence and of greater surface unity through selection of materials.
  • 12. Some Modern Novels • James Joyce developed a variety of devices for stream-of- consciousness narrative in Ulysses (1922) • Dorothy Richardson sustains a stream-of-consciousness mode of narrative, focused exclusively on the mind and perceptions of her heroine, throughout the twelve volumes of her novel Pilgrimage (1915-38) • Virginia Woolf employs the procedure as a primary, although not exclusive, narrative mode in several novels, including Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927); and • William Faulkner exploits it brilliantly in the first three of the four parts of The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  • 13. Virginia Woolf • Virginia Woolf was interested in giving voice to the complex inner world of feeling and memory and conceived the human personality as a continuous shift of impressions and emotions. • So the events that traditionally made up a story were no longer important for her; what mattered was the impression they made on the characters who experienced them. • In her novels the omniscient narrator disappeared and the point of view shifted inside the characters’ minds through flashbacks, associations of ideas, momentarily impressions presented as a continuous flux.
  • 14. Indirect Interior Monologue in To the Lighthouse • Virginia Woolf, among the stream-of-consciousness writers, relies most on the indirect interior monologue and she uses it with great skill. • In To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf succeeds in producing a much subtle effect through the use of this technique. • This novel contains a great deal of straight, conventional narration and description, but the interior monologue is used often enough to give the novel its special character of seeming to be always within the consciousness of the chief characters. • Virginia Woolf, in her essay, Modern Fiction: “Let us record the atom as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearances, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness.”
  • 15. Virginia Woolf • . . . In Modern Fiction (1919): • “Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad of impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came to here but there; so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street sailors would have it.
  • 16. Illustrations from To The Lighthouse • Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr Ramsay excited in his children’s breasts by his mere presence; standing, as now, lean as a knife, narrow as the blade of one, grinning sarcastically, not only with the pleasure of disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife, who was ten thousand times better in every way than he was (James thought), but also with some secret conceit at his own accuracy of judgement. What he said was true. It was always true. (Pg. 1)
  • 17. Explanation of textual quote • In the previous slide, use of bracket is quite significant as it proves that the ongoing description of the character Mr. Ramsay is not narrated by narrator but its thought process of little James. • The above passage illustrates the occasionally baffling similarity between a narrator’s utterance and omniscient-narrator commentary. • Narrator steps aside but soon comes to give the comment: ‘What he said was true . . .”
  • 18. Let us examine the following passage in the first chapter of part one. • “…For how would you like to be shut up for a whole month at a time, and possibly more in stormy weather, upon a rock the size of a tennis lawn? She would ask; and to have no letters and newspapers, and to see nobody; if you were married, not to see your wife, not to know how your children were, --if they were ill, if they had fallen down and broken their legs or arms; to see the same dreary waves breaking week after week, and then a dreadful storm coming, and the windows covered with spray, and birds dashed against the lamp, and the whole place rocking, and not be able to put your nose out of doors for fear of being swept into the sea? How would you like that? She asked, …(p.2)
  • 19. Explanation of textual quote • The passage above is represented in the manner of straight narration by the author, – but it is clearly what the character feels and thinks, and it reflects the character’s consciousness and inner thought. – In this passage, Woolf facilitates the indirect interior monologue with her unique skills. – Firstly, she uses the conjunction “for” as an indication of the beginning of this monologue and produces an easy and natural shift from objective description to the character’s interior monologue. – Secondly she presents Mrs. Ramsay’s consciousness by the guiding phrases “she would ask” and “she asked” to make the reader wonder about unhurriedly in Mrs. Ramsay’s consciousness. – Thirdly, here she employs semicolons to indicate the continuation of the consciousness. The use of semicolons characterizes Woolf’s skill in dealing with indirect interior monologue. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 20. Illustration from the text • “Yes, he did say disagreeable things, Mrs. Ramsay admitted; it was odious of him to rub this in, and make James still more disappointed; but at the same time, she would not let them laugh at him. ‘The atheist’, they called him; ‘the little atheist’, Rose mocked him; Prue mocked him; Andrew, Jasper, Roger mocked him; even old Badger without a tooth in his head had bit him, …” (p.2)
  • 21. Explanation of textual quote • The above passage illustrates the occasionally baffling similarity between a narrator’s utterance and omniscient- narrator commentary. • It demonstrates, however, how punctuation can wonderfully signal the continuation of consciousness sometimes. • The extraordinary subtlety of her skill here is located in the use of the semicolons after “they called him”. Had she not placed a semicolon there, the reader might easily be misled to think that the sentence “but at the same time, she would not let them laugh at him” is an omniscient-narrator commentary. • So in this passage, with the help of semicolons, the reader can easily discern what is the character’s interior monologue and when it begins and halts. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 22. Use of Parenthesis • Parentheses can be signals of digression and of simultaneity as this one: • “Teaching and preaching is beyond human power, Lily suspected. (She was putting away her things.)”(p.32)
  • 23. Use of Parenthesis • Parentheses can also be little asides, explanations, pointers to what is going on. Lily in this passage is thinking about Mr. Bankes: • “I respect you (she addressed him silently)in every atom; you are not vain; you are entirely impersonal; you are finer than Mr. Ramsay; you are the finest human being that I know; you have neither wife nor child (without any sexual feeling, she longed to cherish that loneliness), you live for science (involuntarily, sections of potatoes rose before her eyes); praise would be an insult to you; generous, pure- hearted, heroic man! (p.16-17)
  • 24. Explanation • Here the parentheses signal sudden and momentary switches in perspective. The narrative is thrown backwards and forwards between Lily’s voice, with its intonation mimicked exactly. Lily’s dwelling on the austerity of Bankes’ life indicates not only Bankes’ desire for solitude, but also hers---and at the same time shows her resistance to her own loneliness. She wants at once to extend and to limit, to see more of Bankes and less of herself.
  • 25. Explanation • This conflict is represented in the simultaneous development of two registers: the succession of main clauses inscribing Lily’s voice, and the little interruptions of the parentheses, at the corner of Lily’s eye. • The final set of brackets describes a sudden obstruction of her vision: the rising of potatoes before her eyes. Yet this obstruction too is part of the movement of her thought: it is her habit to conceptualize intellectual disciplines as material objects (“She always saw, when she thought of Mr. Ramsay’s work, a scrubbed kitchen table.”) (p.16) • Obviously the parentheses help render the inner world of Lily more exactly clearly and help present us with the exact condition of consciousness. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 26. Illustration • ‘Such expeditions’, said Mr. Ramsay, scraping the ground with his toe, ‘are very painful.’ Still Lily said nothing. (She is a stock, she is a stone, he said to himself.) ‘They are very exhausting,’ he said, looking, with a sickly look that nauseated her (he was acting, she felt, this great man was dramatizing himself), at his beautiful hands. (p. 106)
  • 27. Explanation • Here again the parentheses act as signals of perspective. They are the demarcation lines between omniscient narration and interior monologue. • With the help of brackets, Woolf makes an easy and clear transition between the two. And this is one of the indications of her sophistication in artistry.
  • 28. Use of Parenthesis in Time Passes and The Lighthouse • [Mr. Ramsay, stumbling along a passage one dark morning, stretched his arms out, but Mrs Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before, his arms, though stretched out, remained empty.] (Pg 91) • [Prue Ramsay, leaning on her father’s arm, was given in marriage. What, people said, could have been more fitting? And, they added, how beautiful she looked!] (pg 93) • *Macalister’s boy took one of the fish and cut a square out of its side to bait his hook with. The mutilated body (it was alive still) was thrown back into the sea.]
  • 29. Explanation • Each set of sentences in brackets in the earlier section contains violence, death, and the destruction of potential; the short, stabbing accounts accentuate the brutality of these events. • But in Chapter VI of “The Lighthouse,” the purpose of the brackets changes from indicating violence and death to violence and potential survival. • Whereas in “Time Passes,” the brackets surround Prue’s death in childbirth and Andrew’s perishing in war, in “The Lighthouse” they surround the “mutilated” but “alive still” body of a fish. (SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on To the Lighthouse.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.)
  • 30. • With her unique devices such as guiding phrases, semicolons, and parentheses embroidered to her interior monologue, Virginia Woolf successfully overcomes the shortcomings of stream-of- consciousness novel of being incoherent and chaotic, and achieves great explicitness, coherence, vividness and surface unity in presenting the characters’ inner world. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 31. Technique of Free Association in To The Lighthouse • The chief technique in controlling the movement of stream-of-consciousness in fiction has been an application of the principles of psychological free association.
  • 32. The Aesthetic Significance. . . • First, the free association technique extends the scope and the levels the writing expresses and makes it possible for the writers to deal as much as possible the characters’ subjective experience within fairly narrow objective time- space scope. • Second, the free association technique breaks out the traditional narrative structure. By the help of this technique, the characters may think about others upon seeing related things, recall old memories at familiar sights and think of another thing or person upon seeing one; the consciousness may shift freely among present, past and future, or from one place to another. During the process of the association, the objective time and the psychic time intermingle; the past memories, the future expectation and the present consciousness exist alternately; the result of which is a structure of confusion in space-time and disorder in sequence. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 33. • Third, the free association technique may have the effect of contrast and satire through the writers bringing together the instances happening at different time and different places. • Therefore this technique is essential for the writers to depict the real world of the consciousness.
  • 34. Three Factors That Control the Association • first, the memory, which is its basis; second, the senses, which guide it; and third, the imagination, which determines its elasticity”.
  • 35. Free Association In To the Lighthouse • In To the Lighthouse, Woolf usually encloses free association into the indirect interior monologue to represent the psychic processes of her characters. We may take the 7-10th chapters of the first part of To the Lighthouse as an example: • The continuity of the section is established through an exterior occurrence involving Mrs. Ramsay and James: • Mrs. Ramsay tells James the story of the Fisherman’s Wife. (Yanxia Sang)
  • 36. Illustration of Free Association • Another remarkable example perches in the twelfths chapter in the last part of To the Lighthouse. In this chapter, Lily Briscoe, the artist, while watching the sea, feels her mind ebb and flow with it.
  • 37. Conclusion • By analyzing stream-of-consciousness technique, we can find that indirect interior monologue makes Woolf express the character’s inner world in such great coherence and surface unity. • Her presentation of the characters’ interior monologue is not only coherent in meaning, but also conventional in appearance.
  • 38. Conclusion • Her use of indirect interior monologue allows the narrator to reveal the characters’ flow of thoughts and takes the reader into the consciousness of the characters in the novel. • And free association makes the readers step into the inner worlds of her characters by their feelings, thoughts, memories, etc. • So there is no question that Virginia Woolf is at her best when she is writing her stream-of- consciousness novels which deal with the conscious, subconscious and even unconscious part of her characters.
  • 39. Conclusion • Although the historical period when stream-of- consciousness novel acted as a main trend in literature has ended, the experimental techniques adopted by the modernist writers have further influence upon literary creation. • Virginia Woolf’s individualized and experimental art of fiction has offered significance not only in studying the stream-of-consciousness fiction but also in literary creation.
  • 40. Acknowledgement • Abram, M.H., A Glossary of Literary Terms. • Sang, Yanxia, An Analysis of Stream-of-Consciousness Technique in To The Lighthouse < www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/download/7281/5627> • Humprey, Robert. (1954). Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel. Berkeley: University of California Press. p.24, p.43 • Woolf, Leonard, ED. (1966). Collected Essays. London: The Hogarth Press, pp.320- 321. • Woolf, Virginia. (1966). “Modern Fiction” Collected Essays. London: Chatto and Windus, p.104. • Woolf, Virginia. (1994). To the Lighthouse. eBooks@Adelaide, The University of Adelaide, Library University of Adelaide, South Australia. • For Images: – http://fineartamerica.com/ – http://julimize.com/
  • 41. Additional Reading Resources • Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds: Nanative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, 1978 • Leon Edel, The Modern Psychological Novel (1955, rev. 1964) • Robert Humphrey, Stream of Consciousness the Modem Novel (1954) • Melvin Friedman, Stream of Consciousness: A Study Literary Method (1955) • William Jones, The Principles of Psychology. Vol 1 & 2 • Robert Humphrey. Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel. • Barry Dainton. Stream of Consciousness: Unity and Continuity in Conscious Experience
  • 42. Thank You Compiled by: Dilip Barad Dept. of English M.K. Bhavnagar University Gujarat – India dilipbarad@gmail.com www.dilipbarad.com