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The Contribution of Virginia Woolf The Stream of Consciousness

Updated on January 6, 2017

The Contribution of Virginia Woolf: The Stream of Consciousness

Creative Writing- Ceyda Bedir

The first utterance: when we say the concept of Modernism, It reminds us of Virginia Woolf with her original use of the stream of consciousness. If our consciousness is related to our mind, what makes it so important to be used as this movement? The self consciousness looks like a river or waterfall to represent the flow of thoughts and opinions that are hidden in your own mind. We all have our secret opinions that nobody knows in a way that every human being has the same characteristic feature. Virginia Woolf has a huge contribution to reflect the nature of human effectively and she is the English writer who is the pioneer in this field and who presents stream of consciousness writing at its purest. She realized that it is not enough to express only outside reality. She found limited and restricted to use only the conventions and traditions of writing style. Hence, she created the concept of the stream of consciousness to reveal the inner sides of personality with experimental forms in her novel.

Woolf shows not only the mirror of reality integrating with the society, but also the picture of people’s mind. We easily see the most striking examples of how Woolf portrayed the concept of the stream of consciousness every detail in her great novels like Mrs. Dalloway or To the Lighthouse. There is definitely some form or pattern and some inner unity in these novels. Of course, the influence of Joyce and Bergson is also considerable. Her essential method is her own. That is why we find that the novelist is playing the role of a central intelligence in her outstanding novels. In fact, Virginia Woolf was a great experimenter. She experimented with many methods and gave to ‘the stream of consciousness’ technique and finally achieved her complete success in Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.

Virginia Woolf was quite interested both the inner and outer Life simultaneously. However; as we know from her stories, Woolf was more interested in the inner than in the outer life of a character. The main point that Woolf wanted to show us is to demonstrate the soul or ‘psyche’ truthfully and realistically by using the stream of consciousness technique. She wants to provide a message to us in that the human psyche is not a simple entity functioning logically and rationally. That’s why there is the interior monologue and there are the fluid mental states. But, we get the interior monologue and the fluid mental states existing simultaneously at a number of points in a person’s total experience.

Another point is that Woolf had an impact on interior monologue which is the consequences of the stream of consciousness. In a novel, the interior monologue is, in fact, a fundamental part of the novels in a new literary genre which is referred to the use of self of consciousness. This internal side or interior monologue is the silent speech flowing from the mind of a given character and introduces us directly into the internal life of the character without the author’s adding his or her own perspective. Briefly, it is an expression of the most deep intimate thoughts which represent outside reality allowing the main character to analyze in her mind and reflect his or her impression by adding the standpoints. Therefore, we may say that this is a substantial technical device owing to the effect of the stream of consciousness that enables the reader to enter the inner life of a character straightaway and to pay attention the flow of sensations and lines of vision without depending on the rules of societies. This can cause the appearance of individuality or the self-realization as the result of the stream of consciousness.

Virginia Woolf broke away the rules of general type of chronological of narration that attributes to the new shape of a genre. There is no set description of characters as in the older novel; there is a shift from the externals to the inner self of the personality. Moreover; the stream of consciousness takes away its direction in the sense of a logical arrangement of incidents and events, leading chronologically to survive in society and the development of the character according to the norms of society to the attraction of the character from his or her own mind.Because,
Virginia Woolf supports the idea of subjectivity in her novels in connection
with no plot, no character, no tragedy, no comedy, and no love-interest as in
the traditional novel. That is why she abandoned the convention of story for
the same reason. Woolf uses a stream of consciousness technique in
order to put the thoughts that pass from the characters' minds, their feelings,
reactions and memories throughout the events of the day. The novel does not
follow a linear plot line, If you notice that, the self of consciousness is always
related to the events which are connected with memories from the characters'
pasts or the reality that the main character of the story face. Woolf shows the
characters' internal realities with their external reality in order to resemble
the way in which we experience life. That’s because we see common qualities as
the same on human nature in Woolf’s every work so as to come people’s mind

When we look at the biography of Virginia Woolf in her personal life, Woolf has the alienation, isolated lifestyle in the sense of evaluating her life from her own mind. How can we understand that Woolf can influence from the self of consciousness? She was not satisfied with
the real life which gives a stable, limited description and saw the life is meaningless
as it appears in front of our eyes looking at the reality and obeying the norms of society. "What is the meaning of life? … a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark." In her work called To the Lighthouse, she criticizes the society from adapting the self of consciousness. Even in her another work named “Mrs.Dalloway”, she used this technique excellently by putting herself inside of the main character. The stream of consciousness specifies what a person thinks about something and how he, she aggravates their vision and the ability of commenting by using the observable facts. Woolf supports this idea by saying that it is insufficient, unsatisfactory and unconvincing for the readers to illuminate them when a modernist text is explained by only external reality.


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