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What is the novel about Mrs Dalloway is a novel so rich and complex in its imagery and the issues to which it gives rise are so many and so varied that to assign one distinctly defined meaning to it as one might for a Victorian or Edwardian novel is to miss the point of Woolfs style Woolf was adamant that the literary conventions of her Edwardian predecessors such as reliance on material evidence and external fact had been rendered obsolete by the radical changes in society following the War For us she asserted those conventions are ruin those tools are death The novel is a consciously intellectual piece of writing Woolf was throwing down the gauntlet to the critics of the day who like the characters in the book were reluctant to admit to themselves that society had changed On 18th February 1922 she writes in her Diary Im to write what I like and theyre to say what they like this attitude to life is apparent throughout the novel presented as an ideal in the figure of Sally Seton Woolfs portrayal of time in Mrs Dalloway is key to this idea of change following the War it is always characterised in an oppressive light beginning in the first passage of the novel There Out it boomed First a warning musical then the hour irrevocable The leaden circles dissolved in the air The use of irrevocable really sets the tone that will continue throughout the novel whenever the concept of time is mentioned as it frequently is Woolf gives the impression that life in London during the early 1920s is governed by time it is a case that the clock as Lord Tennyson wrote beats out the little lives of men This concept is underlined when Woolf links the English obsession with time to Sir William Bradshaws ironical goddess divine proportion Shredding and slicing dividing and subdividing the clocks of
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