Comparing & Difference of Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway

Also Read

Janies Joyce As Appreciated by Mrs. Woolf

      Though Mrs. Virginia Woolf is not among the architects of the ‘stream-of-consciousness’ novel, yet she has made it her own by her experiments and valuable contribution to it. When she had started writing novels, the subjective novel already became very popular. James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and Proust had already published their unparalleled work that tremendously influenced the mind of Mrs. Virginia Woolf. But the far-reaching impact on her was of the James Joyce. In 1922 Joyce’s Ulysses started coming out in series and Mrs. Woolf had read a few serialized chapters of Ulysses and her fancy was caught by the technique used by Joyce in Ulysses. She has appreciated him in her essay entitled Modern Fiction: “Mr. Joyce concerned at all costs to reveal the flickering of that innermost fame which flashes its messages through the brain, and in order to pressure it he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, whether it be probability, or coherence, of any other of those signposts which for generations have served to support the imagination of a reader when called upon to imagine what he can neither touch nor see... we want life itself; here surely we have it.”

The Influence of Joyce’s Technique

      Virginia Woolf was much influenced with so many aspects of the technique of Ulysses. James Joyce had broken away the distinguishing line between the subjective and objective, and used the technique of stream-of-consciousness and rendered the very, “luminous halo, the semi-transparent envelope” etc. Mrs. Woolf has found it the best subject of her novels and after this, her work had been changed and never remained the same as it was. Her novels the Voyage out and Night and Day are very much traditional in which the narrative proceeds chronologically and there is no effort to render atmosphere of the minds of characters. But when she read Joyce’s Ulysses she kept all the traditional techniques aside and used them never again. Thus, Mrs. Dalloway is very much like Joyce’s novel, “diluted and washed, and done in beautiful watercolor.” The 

Similarity Between James Joyce and Mrs. Virginia Woolf

      Mrs. Woolf has regarded Joyce as a spiritualist very much contrary to H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett and others. They are called by her materialises. Mrs. Woolf has followed Joyce’s spiritual technique. Like Joyce, Mrs. Woolf has her own theory of novel and thus we meet several similarities in their works. Both are creative and highly original. They are marvelous theorists of the ‘stream-of-consciousness’ novel and both consider the ‘psyche’ or inner life the proper subject of the fiction. They resemble one in their preoccupation with time and both stand against the artistic traditions of the 19th century novel. Joyce and Woolf both have exploited what is called ‘interior monologue’ to accomplish their purpose.

The Narrow Frame Work: Depthwise Presentation of the Life

      There is no denying the fact that Ulysses is more enterprising work and thick in comparison with Mrs. Dalloway. There are, undoubtedly, remarkable distinctions in tone but on several points Ulysses and Mrs. Dalloway are identical. J.W. Beach says that like Joyce, Mrs. Woolf too “cuts her slice of life, breadthwise and depthwise”. Just like Ulysses, Mrs. Dalloway too has narrow framework of fewer than twenty-four hours time and whole action apparently is confined to the city of London as Ulysses in Dublin, ‘like Ulysses the number of characters is strictly limited, the novelist being largely occupied with the stream-of-consciousness of only two or three characters. Like Ulysses, it is given form, for one thing, by the development of themes, in the fashion of music, (J.W. Beach). To sum up both novelist have endowed their novels with narrow framework, with the purpose to impart integrity, form and coherence to what is chaotic in nature.

Breadthwise Presentation of Life

      Like Ulysses, in Mrs. Dalloway the action swings from on point of consciousness to another or from present to past. Mrs. Dalloway’s and Septimus Warren Smith’s minds are the fixed points from where the movement starts and ends as it is Bloom and Dedalus in Ulysses. By the help of these two consciousness and introduction of various minor figures in the background, the complete satiric picture of the English society in the years following the war, is built up. Like Ulysses in Mrs. Dalloway also, two separated characters come together for a short moment at the end. The incident of the royal car in Mrs. Dalloway is the imitation of Joyce. The progress of the royal car rests upon the progress of the royal Cavalcade through the streets of Dublin in Ulysses. So in this manner, the same incident in both novels suggest the hordes of undistinguished people, the common mass and thus gives “to their slice of life, a breadthwise extension in the present moment,” (J.W. Beach).

The Distinguishing Features of the Novel; No Mythical Background

      Mrs. Woolf has initiated to a great extent Joyce’s preoccupation with time. We move at several moments into the past of the principal characters through their stream-of-consciousness. We see them at certain moments that had transformed their characters. The past is not dealt as past but exists on the present, it shapes the present and lives on its consequences. The presence of past is common in both of the novelists. But in James Joyce, we see the use of mythical method which implies past for parallelism and contrast but no such mythical method is in the work of Mrs. Woolf Mrs. Dalloway is built on a very smaller scale but the pattern of Ulysses is like Homer’s Odessey.

      Mrs. Dalloway is the close imitation of Ulysses. The structure, technique, manipulation of time, use of multiple views to present London and make the reader see London, how in a big city people’s path cross, superficial contacts and how each individual lives locked within the boundary of his personal experience, for all these Ulysses is the pattern of Mrs. Dalloway. It is “a subtle conversion to simpler ends of the Joycean complexities.” There is too scaling down of values and dimensions but methodically and technically both are the same.

The Ingenuity of Mrs. Woolf

      Mrs. Woolf has, though, closely followed James Joyce and she is highly indebted to him yet she is equally great in her originality. She has stamped “the stream-of-consciousness novel” like her own. She has for the first time made a balance between the formlessness, disorders and the essential condition of art; order and form. She has very attentively put signposts for the guidance of the readers. There is constant striking of Big Ben when the transition from past to present or from one consciousness to another takes place. Thus the confrontation of clock time and psychological time is the striking feature of Mrs. Dalloway. Though there are no logical connections in the novel yet we meet well-marked clear-cuts, associational and emotional links. Moreover, there is not complete self-effacement of the novelist. Pronoun ‘one’ replaces the ‘I’ and it is an intermediate sort of pronoun or a midway between ‘I’ and ‘she’ of other novelists. Mrs. Woolf has frequently used ‘one’ but in case of minor characters, she indulges in the traditional method of characterization. Consequently novel is well integrated. The credit of bringing ‘stream-of-consciousness novel’ out of the world of ‘stunt literature’ indeed goes to her.

The Greater Clarity and Expressiveness of Mrs. Woolf

      As far as style and vocabulary are concerned Mrs. Dalloway is superior to Ulysses. In comparison to Mrs. Woolf, Mr. Joyce is very obscure and ambiguous because of his compact allusive and elliptical manner and because of his excessive use of foreign words and phrases, writing without punctuation, without a division between phrases and sentences, and passing rapidly etc. But Woolf’s writing is free from such eccentricities. Her prose is noteworthy for its clarity and expressiveness. Mrs. Woolf seems to be fully aware of the fact that the task of rendering the atmosphere of the mind is a difficult one thus she has used the methods and resources from poetry to increase the expressiveness of her style. Her novel is profused with vivid metaphors and symbols. Her novel is like the lyrical prose. The credit of poetizing the English novel certainly goes to her.

Previous Post Next Post