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Stream of consciousness is the technique used by Woolf to explore the thought processes of the characters. However, Woolf does not employ it in the fragmented prose form that is identified with James Joyce. Instead she brings order within the disorderly working of individual consciousness by making her prose lyrical. Through apt and vivid imagery, Woolf is able to knit together the disjointed thoughts of several of the novel’s characters into a unifying whole. What emerge through this exercise are themes of human loneliness, insecurity, loss, anguish and longing. But the overall experience of the novel is far from tragic. To the contrary, the reader is taken on an intimate journey into the most personal and most inaccessible reaches of the character’s inner churnings. A successful cathartic effect is experienced by the reader through the linguistic virtuosity of Woolf.
“Literariness is often said to lie above all in the organization of language that makes literature distinguishable from language used for other purposes. Literature is language that ‘foregrounds’ language itself: makes it strange, thrusts it at you – ‘Look I’m language!’ – so you can’t forget that you are dealing with language shaped in odd ways.” (p.28)
Woolf’s prose style is exemplary in achieving this form of foregrounding. She accomplishes this through various stylistic and thematic features. Through lyrical exposition of inner monologues, Woolf deliberates on subjects as profound as ‘the meaning of life. The foregrounding of language in general and English in particular is evident from how it is made the only possible medium of communication. Moreover, one can see how the literary form of the novel itself is foreground even if not intended by the author. For example, the following is an illustration of a stream of consciousness which only works on
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Narrative Techniques To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf was known for her poetic legacy of using stream of consciousness narrative technique. To the Lighthouse is one of her literary works that used such narrative technique. This technique is said to be associated with a type of monologue, which targets consciousness to be represented internally or with associated feelings.
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