The Hours

1. Analysis of the book

In the book, Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses literary allusion as structural metaphor, archetypes from folklore and myth and a multitude of social environments to criticize the social system and reinforce the underlying theme of continuity between past and present. She writes about how class, wealth and sex, among other things, determine one’s fate—focusing on the fate of each of the women in her three main stories. While the problems that affect Woolf’s characters are indeed personal, they reflect problems embedded in the fabric of society, such as the diminution of life over time and how death, particularly suicide, might be seen as the only way out and a way to liberate people of their burdens. This notion of individual consciousness, along with the other complex themes, forces the reader to really think about what he or she is reading.

1. Analysis of the film

The Hours, which was released in 2002, contains many interesting elements, including a superb cast highlighted by Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep, and a unique stream of consciousness-like filming technique. The film does an exceptional job of transitioning between stories and portraying the themes that make the story so compelling. In the end, the stories converge quickly and fluidly without creating any holes in the narrative, a testament to the quality of the filmmaking. The Hours also has numerous poignant demonstrations of homosexuality, which is a significant in itself, but also symbolizes years of suppressed feelings hiding behind a false identity.

3. Analysis of the adaptation

The film is a faithful representation of the book, in that the characters are set up the same way as in the book and Woolf’s narrative and psychological interiority are understood and accurately portrayed by the combination of Cunningham, Hare and Daldry. The stream of consciousness-like filming is very precise and seemingly impeccable, until the end of the film when Laura Brown shows up at Clarissa’s apartment. This unpredicted conclusion makes the story snap into place, but one has to wonder if there was even a need for closure. Ultimately, this shouldn’t take away from the film’s credibility, as the main themes of death, distraction and romance were well executed and benefited from several award-winning performances.

4. Online research on the film

This essay describes Virginia Woolf and her criticism of the social structure, which was one of her main purposes in the film.

This essay describes the concept of literary allusion as structural metaphor in The Hours.

This website is the Goodreads page for Mrs. Dalloway. I didn’t know about this website before, but it’s a very useful tool to see what people rated the book and their reviews. The users on this website are book and literature lovers and it’s very interesting to read what everyone has to say because there’s a lot of difference of opinion, besides the fact that almost everyone tends to agree that Mrs. Dalloway was a good book.

5. Critical analysis paragraph

What is the attitude of the film towards books and writers? Is it respectful or does the film suggest that literature is being replaced in our society by visual media, such as film?

At its core, the film deals with books and writers, portraying them as holders of great power and influence over people and situations. For example, the film shows how the book, Mrs. Dalloway, significantly affects the lives of the main characters, even planting—or furthering—the idea in Laura Brown’s head of suicide being the only answer to her inescapable reality. Meanwhile, visual media and film are basically absent from the film, forcing the viewer to consider the toll of writing or reading a book, becoming emotionally invested in it, and how books affect people. Such an emphasis on books in the film represents the value of books, particularly Mrs. Dalloway, to the writers, producers and directors of the film.

2 responses to “The Hours

  1. Nice analysis and I’m glad you did the critical analysis prompt on books and authors. A big theme in the book that for once makes the transition to film. 10/10. JB.

  2. Don’t give up on the Adaptation blog writing assignment. I’ll have to take off a bit for lateness, but you can still get most of the credit for the assignment. JB.

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