jealousy, love, and life after fifty

“A terrible confession it was (he put his hat on again), but now, at the age of fifty-three, one scarcely needed people anymore. Life itself, every moment of it, every drop of it, here, this instant, now, in the sun, in Regent’s Park, was enough. Too much, indeed. A whole lifetime was too short to bring out, now that one had acquired the power, the full flavour; to extract every ounce of pleasure, every shade of meaning; which both were so much more solid than they used to be, so much less personal” (Woolf 59).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Benediction Classics, Oxford, 2017, pp.59

Here, in the park with Peter, Clarrisa admits to herself that she is in love with Peter, but that with age they have both come to realize that life is forever different after fifty, and that love is different, too. She confesses that after all those years of him being in love with her and not reciprocating, it is now she who is falling for Peter.

Emerging as an Artist; Stephen in Dublin

“All the leisure which was his school life left him was passed in the company of subversive writers whose gibe and violence of speech set up a ferment in his brain before they passed out of it into his writings.

The essay was for him the chief labour of his week and every Tuesday, as he marched from home to the school, he read his fate in the incidents of the way, pitting himself against some figure ahead of him and quickening his pace to outstrip it before a certain goal was reached or planting his steps scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the foot path and telling himself that he would be first and not first in the weekly essay (Joyce 83).”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Stephen’s competitive spirit and insecurity compared to his peers drives him to pour gobs of effort into the weekly essays. He goes on to have an encounter with Heron and his goons where they bully him over his opinion on who the greatest poet of prose is. Tennyson, who according to heron is simply a poet for common uneducated people, is the poet Stephen lists. This harkens back to the “Pull out his eyes, Apologize” rhyming tendency that Stephen has always had an affinity for.

 

School Bullies: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“–0, I say, here’s a fellow who says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed.

They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with the He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and sill Wells laughed. But Wells must know the right answer for he was in third of grammar” (Joyce 11).

-Stephen struggles to understand the peer dynamics between younger and slightly older boys, insisting there must be a correct answer to the question Wells poses, even though it is a joke meant to poke fun.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.

 

An Extension: The Middle Years

“No, no–I only should have had more time. I want another go.”
“Another go?”
“I want an extension.”
“An extension?” Again Doctor Hugh repeated Dencombe’s words, with which he seemed to have been struck. “Don’t you know?–I want to what they call ‘live.’”

(James, Henry.) ‘The Middle Years’. Terminations, Scribner’s Magazine, 1893, pp. 348.

An ailing writer trapped in a perfectionist mindset, unable to accept the body of work he will soon leave behind. An “extension” is a extra amount of time granted to a writer to complete a piece of work to satisfaction, but in this context Dencombe also asks from his doctor for an extension on life itself, saying he “want(s) to what they call ‘live.;”