||This thesis is intended to argue that in Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, under the inconspicuous influence and domination of reticent patriarchy, four female characters try to articulate themselves and win themselves agency. |
In the novel, reticent patriarchy has other names: Proportion and Conversion, which are propagated by some male characters, and that produces an overall submissive situation, including males’ and females’ submission. Besides using Ding Naifei and Jen-Peng Liu’s idea of reticence, I also change their original equation of substance/patriarchy, shadow/feminism and penumbra/queer into a new one, which consists of substance/patriarchy, shadows/docile female characters and penumbrae/alternative female characters. This new equation clearly presents that there are other female characters having different thoughts about their situations. Rezia Smith, Doris Kilman, Lady Bruton and Clarissa Dalloway are my examples. I intend to discuss these four women’s situations by separating them into two groups according to their class positions: Rezia and Miss Kilman from one group while Lady Bruton and Clarissa constitute the other.
The reason why I identify them as penumbrae is not because they do not have the shadow sides or they are not interpellated by patriarchy, but because, as we can see from their not fully aware and alternative behaviors, they possess the penumbra sides. I especially want to demonstrate that how their shadow sides contradict their penumbra sides, and their repression is the effect of this contradiction.
These four women may not be aware of their repressed thoughts, but they are indeed the direct challenge to reticent patriarchy. The stream of consciousness technique provides readers the first-hand information by participating in their consciousness. This technique both presents their repression but also their methods of empowerment. Some of them better their material conditions or assure their life survival; some of them change the ways they used to see the society or themselves. Either way, those behaviors indicate the existence of penumbra’s agency. As penumbrae, they are no more shapeless and voiceless; instead, in different ways, they perform their subjectivity and agency.
||Abel, Elizabeth. “Between the Acts of Mrs. Dalloway.” Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1989. 30-44.|
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