This blog is a combination of information compiled as an element of a seminar course revolving around Virginia Woolf.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Critical Reflection #3

Virginia Woolf and the General Strike

Kate Flint

Kate Flint’s article regarding ‘Virginia Woolf and the General Strike’ is insightful in many ways. Taking the most obvious literary devices incorporated in “Time Passes,” Flint argues for a specific understanding regarding the baffling nature of the middle passage. Arguing that Virginia Woolf may have been thinking of the general strike regarding the reduction of wages for coal miners in the 1920’s when writing “Time Passes,” Flint shows the reader the ways in which the passage reveals one uncertain event and its relation to society as a whole. When talking about the destruction of the Scottish residence in the section, Flint states, “Its near destruction is being used, potentially, as an image of fear greater destruction. If this whole house had ‘plunged downward to the depths of darkness’, so, in a sense, the set of social and cultural values which occupied it…might be said to have fallen too” (329). In the end, the only thing that saves the house is human nature and the work of Mrs.McNab and Mrs. Bast. (Which may I add is interesting in itself because up until this point in the course I think we have seen a negative view of human nature by Woolf. To have the goodness of human nature triumph and save the house is an important distinction between this section and other portions of Woolf’s work we have read).

Similarly, Flint argues that Woolf’s feminist ideals are portrayed through the triumph of the feminine spirit. She states, “ The destructive forces of patriarchy and the dangers of impersonality are countered by female effort.” She alludes to Woolf’s commentary on the negative influences of World War I through her destructive and violent language, reiterating that unity must be more powerful than the “forces of division” (333). This is where we see the comparison to the General Strike. Because the General Strike was mainly centered on middle class unfairness, Woolf seems to be commenting that society as a whole must be united to function successfully and thus is degrading the wage reductions.

As a whole, the article is very informative. Although I personally believe Flint could have included a little more detail regarding the General Strike, I think the article really explains in-depth the meaning behind “Time Passes.” Examining almost all portions of the text from Woolf’s use of language to references to other literary works, Flint creates a successfully functioning article. I can honestly say I now understand ‘Time Passes’ in a more historical context due to Flint’s interpretations.

I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of quotes from Woolf’s diary. The personal thoughts and feelings of Woolf greatly helped in supporting Flint’s argument. Similarly, Flint did a great job of analyzing Woolf’s thought from all perspectives. Not only does she support her argument, but also addresses rebuttals a critic may commonly devise; therefore, I am convinced that Virginia Woolf’s ‘ Time Passes’ has historical undertones concerning the General Strike of 1925 and World War One.

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