The Hours Essay

Submitted By deborahjames
Words: 1328
Pages: 6

She Sells Sanctuary Set in three very different eras, Stephen Daldry facilitates the viewers understanding of how women deal with monotony of everyday life. Through the weaving of the narratives, the audience gets a new perspective on Virginia Woolf’s life and struggles within. Woolf, who wrote the classic novel “Mrs. Dalloway”, reconstructs her own process of grieving, translating a timeless account of how women cope.
The screenplay written by David Hare alludes to The Hours by Michael Cunningham, a novel written in correspondence to Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” and what is known about Woolf through her journals. Its feminist perspective brings to light the challenges women face, even with what seems to from the outsiders view to be the ‘perfect life.’ Exposed to the parallels the central characters share, the audience reflects on what they initially perceived the context in which these characters stand. This paper will examine how this piece revolutionises the way in which the audience draws on resolution. Are these women’s struggles ‘trivial’ or are they desperately seeking a refuge from feelings of unworthiness? And does it even matter why they feel lost or only that they are. The opening scene introduces the audience to Virginia Woolf’s suicide, the writing of the note and Leonard Woolf’s discovery of it. Virginia’s character, played by Nicole Kidman, narrates the note, as we watch her march to the river, stones lining her pockets. The scene is set in Sussex, England 1941. The narration delivers intimate sentiment to a seemingly somber setting. The significance of beginning with Virginia’s final resolution sets the way to grasping the severity of the storyline to come. Suicide is a common threat inwardly debated by many characters throughout The Hours. But suicide and its final consequence, we come to find out much later, is beside the point. In the next scene, we explore what’s expected of a woman’s role in society and how they struggle to meet their ‘assigned’ roles and their longing to be anybody or any place else. These expectations cause conflict, anxiety and depression ensue. Regardless of the era, the feelings of displacement never waiver. We find evidence in this regarding the unconditional support of these women by their partners and how despite this support displacement is still not extinguished. Virginia Woolf’s husband, Leonard, desperately tries to validate his wife’s talent and purpose by allowing her privacy, peace and unwavering devotion. This results not in Virginia’s betterment, but instead causes her to feel more anxiety and added guilt. Virginia wants desperately to [fit in] but her attempts along with Leonard’s prove futile. We may argue in Virginia’s case, that the dynamic also at play could have been a power issue between men and women, as it often was in the 20’s. This is evident, when Virginia’s character, asks permission to go for a walk, and Leonard makes a snide comment about wishing he can go for a walk mid-morning. Here Kidman looks back as she is exiting the house and perhaps reflects on if these gender roles might be the source of her resentment. The author adds a second narrative, set in 1951 and once again the viewer may assume that the conflict is arriving from lack of power due to gender roles. In the 1950’s women were still answering to their husbands as we see with Laura Brown. Laura’s husband Dan, has financial and marital authority. Even though he doesn’t abuse this authority, his authority is felt none the less. Up until this point the viewer might assume this is cause for displacement, however, in contrast, the character Clarissa Vaughan, who is played by Meryl Streep, has no such issue. Clarissa is in a lesbian relationship, where equality is prevalent. Even without a power struggle between gender roles, Streep is still dissatisfied with her role as a woman, and the expectations that come with it. What we learn here, is displacement is an inward struggle and is