Modernism written after the First World War. Mrs.

Modernism
is a shift in literature because it rejects the romanticism and realism of the
19th century. So, modernist novel is a turning point because all the
former novel styles represented a much more picture-perfect life of people with
their romance and actions, but the modernist novel represents the inner
struggles of the 20th century people, and the reader have access to
the feelings and thought of the characters and can examine them
psychologically. In the 20th century, it was a new thing that
post-war traumas were counted as an issue in novel. Like Virginia Woolf, some
other authors left the conventional characters and broke the social taboos and
began to create modernist novels. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is considered as a modernist novel because it was
written after the First World War. Mrs.
Dalloway shows the post-war anxiety and traumas that people experienced.

 Firstly, the most significant characteristic
of the modernist novel is stream of consciousness. Stream of consciousness is
the flow of thoughts and feelings in the mind of the characters. Stream of
consciousness makes Mrs. Dalloway a
psychological novel. Virginia Woolf shows this in Mrs. Dalloway by informing us about the characters thoughts and
feelings. especially Clarissa’s mental breakdowns and anxiety problems are
clearly seen in the whole novel. There is no conventional order of narration as
it is seen in Austen’s Pride and
Prejudice. Woolf jumps from one character to another character and there is
no presumption that she is going to do such a shift.  

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Secondly,
there is pessimism, hopelessness, uncertainty and deterioration in modernist
novels. People are experiencing post-war anxiety and try to recover. In the
beginning of Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa is buying flowers. This represents the
beauty and happiness even after the war, people try to continue a normal life
without any depression. On the other hand, Septimus Warren Smith is
a good example of pessimism and hopelessness. Septimus experienced the First
World War and is still under its effects. He is experiencing mental breakdowns
and has no more hope in his heart.  He
reminds the reader of the war and its horror. In the beginning of Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf call the war up to
the mind again ‘For it was the middle of June. The War was over, except for
someone like Mrs. Foxcroft at the Embassy last night eating her heart out
because that nice boy was killed and now the old Manor House must go to a
cousin; or Lady Bexborough who opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in
her hand, John, her favorite, killed; but it was over; thank Heaven — over.’
(8). But in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
is far away from hopelessness and pessimism, there is only love romanticism and
hope.

Finally,
another characteristic of modernist novel is that there is a strong reaction
against established social taboos and social and religious views. Clarissa’s
idea of suicide is a social taboo in the 20th century. The idea of
suicide is morally false. But Woolf handles suicide as a psychological fact and
not normalizing but showing that this is a breakdown that every people can live.
Moreover, there is another character, Sally who shows interest in women and does
not want to marry. her behavior is not accepted in the society. Being a
lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or gay is something that is not accepted and
expected in 20th century. Women are expected to marry with a
gentleman who is educated and has money. As it is shown in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, women in the 19th
and 20th century are in a rush to marry with a rich man. And in Pride and Prejudice there is no sign of
homosexuality.

To
sum up, it is seen that there are some differences and shifts in moral and
social issues and in the general structure and narration of a novel in the 20th
centuries modernist novel in contrast with the 19th centuries
realistic novel.