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2. How does time play into both narratives?

Time is a very interesting concept in both The Hours and Mrs. Dalloway. Time, or rather,
the perception of it, is key in both narratives and is intrinsically linked to the progression of both
tales. At first glance, the obvious takeaway would be the very manner in which the story is
depicted there being no reference point. The story, far from chronological, makes no attempt to
confine itself to three different time frames. And while certainly taking place in three different
generations, the experiences of the three women are interwoven in such a manner that it becomes
impossible to distinguish on the basis of time.
A key point repeatedly brought up in the experiences of these women is the trivial nature
of everyday life. It seems to either bore, or downright depress the very fiber of their beings and
each woman ponders more and more what her place is in her mind. And this is where the concept
of time plays its most pivotal role.
In the case of Virginia Woolf, the concept of time is all but forlorn. She exists in a sort of
limbo between the happenings of this world and the one in her mind. And while this is certainly
egged on by her mental illness, it is key to note its occurrences. For one, during the visit of her
sister, she is once more caught drifting off into her ethereal realm, when her sister comments to
her daughter, your Aunt is very lucky. She gets to live in two worlds; one with us, and one in
her mind. These bouts of self-induced absence occur many times during the movie, and each
time, she returns with almost no knowledge of how much time has elapsed in the real world.
A mirror to that would be that of Clarissa Vaughn; however in her case, her moments of
time distortion come from not from the constructs of her mind, but of her persistent clinging onto

the past. Her one true love, Richard gives her the nickname Mrs. Dalloway, and for good reason;
like the character, she too finds no refuge in the everyday things, not even in the arms of her
lover. She even acknowledges this to her daughter, perhaps as a way to bridge the gap of the
world she holds dear, and the one she finds herself in. Time, in her mind at least, is a cruel
reminder of the happiness she once had.
Finally, Laura Browns relationship with time, while an interesting one, does not come to
fruition until her meeting with Clarissa Vaughn upon the death of her son Richard. She deals with
the triviality of things, akin to both Virginia Woolf and Clarissa Vaughn, but in her decision to
abandon her family and do what she dubs, the worst thing a mother could do, she is the only
one who avoids the pitfalls of regret and sorrow experienced by the two women. She took the
matter of her life into her own hands and thus was able to experience the fullness that life
offered. Among the three women, she was the only one who did not let the inner workings of her
mind drive her to the brink of despair, at least not in her later years.
The idea of time and by extension, life in the story can be best summed in the parting
words of Virginia Woolf to her husband Leonard, at the end of the film. Dear Leonard, to look
life in the face. Always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last, to know it.
To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us. Always
the years. Always, the love. Always, the hours.

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