Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway”, A Moment of Connection to Literature

“She could not even get an echo of her old emotion. But she could remember going cold with excitement, and doing her hair in a kind of ecstasy (now the old feeling began to come back to her, as she took out her hairpins, laid them on the dressing-table, began to do her hair), with the rooks flaunting up and down in the pink evening light, and dressing, and going downstairs, and feeling as she crossed the hall “if it were now to die ’twere now to be most happy.” That was her feeling–Othello’s feeling, and she felt it, she was convinced, as strongly as Shakespeare meant Othello to feel it, all because she was coming down to dinner in a white frock to meet Sally Seton!” (Woolf 38).

Woolf, Virginia, and Bonnie Kime Scott. Mrs. Dalloway. A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 2005.

Clarissa recalls her past affection and feelings for Sally Seton, connecting their strength to Shakespeare’s Othello. She insinuates that her love for Sally was as deep and passionate as Othello’s for Desdemona (at the start of the play), furthering the reader’s understanding of the nature of their relationship.

Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, Art and Artistry Within Prose

“The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord.
Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue
after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure
of waves, the greyfringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their
colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then
love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations
of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was
shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing
sensible world through the prism of language many coloured and
richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of
individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic
prose?” (Joyce 140).

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

In his religious devotion, Stephen still focuses on artistry and the imagery behind each word of a phrase. From a single phrase he reads, Stephen extrapolates its meaning and how it serves to create a world within its reader’s imagination.

 

James, “The Middle Years”, and Observation

“He had followed literature from the first, but he had taken a lifetime to get alongside her. Only to-day, at last, had he begun to see, so that what he had hitherto done was a movement without direction. He had ripened too late and was clumsily constituted that he had had to teach himself by mistakes” (James 347).

James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, 335-55. New York: The Library of America, 1996. pp. 347.

Dencombe in his fading health observes how despite his achievement  of a soon to be successful novel, it marks the end of his bittersweet career. In his struggle to reach his ideal through mistakes, he had squandered the limited time he had to live and lost the time he needed to reach perfection.