The Connection between Romanticism and Z. Freud's Theories in V. Woolf's story "The Mark on the Wall"
Undoubtedly, Virginia Woolf's creativity is one of the most mysterious and comprehensive in the world literature. She is considered the most prominent literary critic of the first half of the 20th century. In addition, the authoress entered the history of world literature as a representative of the modernist literature. Her writings have very deep and well thought-out plots. For a long time, Woolf had studied the works of Freud and Jung in order to understand the deeper spiritual experiences and to reflect them during the creation of her literary characters. Each piece is an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, since she was convinced that the human soul was filled with conflicting emotions. In addition to using depth psychology and experiments with the unconscious, Woolf used the Romanticism techniques because she loved the poetry of that era. The poetry of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Byron influenced the writer's art style. Each work has its deep meaning because of Freud's theory of the unconscious and the trends of romanticism since the unconscious is a natural part of a human being that has a direct connection with nature.
Virginia Woolf's creativity is very multi-faceted as it involves all possible experimental literary themes and techniques. According to Benzel and Hoberman, the writer used in her works an experience of past generations in a form of Romanticism trends (79). Thus, a direct relationship with nature or a rebellion against the protagonists of circumstances or morality can be seen in most of her works. In addition, Woolf filled her works with modern trends, which were involved in the early development of analytical and depth psychology. Sigmund Freud's theory of the unconscious as well as Jung's theory of archetypes had a significant influence on her inner world and work (Briggs 49). Her story The Mark on the wall (1917) in the series of short stories Monday or Tuesday can be analyzed from the viewpoint of psychology taking into account Freud's theory; in addition, the story can be considered from the viewpoint of Romanticism tendencies in it.
Undoubtedly, a technique of an inner monologue that turns into the stream of consciousness becomes prevalent in this story; moreover, "an emphasis is placed on verbalization of imagination" (Benzel and Hoberman 101). The work casts doubt on an adequacy of the literary tradition that focuses on a complete story. The story is extremely static and seemingly devoid of stir: sitting in a room, the narrator does not change her position, she only considers a mark on the wall and reflects: "But as for that mark, I’m not sure about it; I don’t believe it was made by a nail after all; it’s too big, too round, for that" (Woolf 62). This static puts the main movement in the story in the forefront, i.e. "a dynamics of working consciousness" (Sim 65).
According to Sim, the stages and forms of narrative of this story is a kind of "protest against the social and destructive processes and trends in bourgeois society". On the other hand, the story protests against the late capitalism (66). Its monotonous style of narration repeats "the canonized forms and styles developed by Romanticism of the 19th century" (Benzel and Hoberman 96). Therefore, the whole story copies reality with the help of stream of consciousness by means of a passive and superficial way.
Hence, the stream of consciousness is just another way of expressing the necessary perspective. The writer uses this technique, as it is matches for realization of her ideas. According to Benzel and Hoberman, the story's psychological and philosophical characteristics of the stream of consciousness determine "the artistic forms of its embodiment", the basic principle of which is to build associative text. In addition, there is "a nonlinearity idea of time and an implicit expression of the unconscious processes in mind" in the text (100). The narration is written in the first person singular and each new stage is not separated from the previous one. "A line-by-line technique emerges a text confluence into a single stream", which creates the desired images in the reader's mind (Benzel and Hoberman 104).
Referring to the technique of stream of consciousness, Woolf uses the method of free association with which Freud used to send his patients in a light trance during psychoanalysis. Thus, the writer turns to a deeper perception of the reader in order to "show deeper emotions and feelings with the help of a text" (Briggs 59). The principle of associativity of mind "turns off" linear unidirectional time, which makes the text of the "stream of consciousness" timeless, which helps to "provide a ground for a mytheme development" (Benzel and Hoberman 105).
Romantic Tendencies in the Story The Mark on the Wall
With regard to the trends of romanticism in this story, it is necessary to pay attention to the form and manner of narration. According to Sim, the writer honored the romantic poets of "The Lake School", who glorified "simple" forgotten feelings (71). In her story The Mark on the Wall, Woolf describes the very mark as a consequence of something incomprehensible. Looking at the small spot, the narrator describes the present and the past, analyzing life in general. In these lines, the author compares life with a quick flight, indicating a problem of time, which leaves no room for a deeper sense: "Why, if one wants to compare life to anything, one must liken it to being blown through the Tube at fifty miles an hour-landing at the other end without a single hairpin in one's hair!"(Woolf 62). The reader can see some symbols associated with romanticism: "Suppose the looking glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer"(Woolf 63)
Therefore, it is evident that the narrator experiences nostalgia for the days when "the sensual aspects of human life were more crucial" (Briggs 73). At the end of the story, the author refers to the forest. The narrator tells the story about nature, trees, and hurricanes. Moreover, the narrator resorts to reflections about "the regeneration of matter and the eternal cycle of nature" (Briggs 73). An ordinary spot on the wall immerses the narrator and the reader in one continuous stream of romantic feelings. Ultimately, the mark on the wall appears to be a snail. Benzel and Hoberman state that the most typical techniques of romanticism in the story are represented by "the sharply defined descriptions and bright and convex images". Moreover, Woolf does not resort to half-tones and sentimentalism tints (111). The romantic character, who is the narrator in the story, is outcast, strange, and incomprehensible; the character struggles with the world and life, loves and despises it. Besides, one of the most striking trends of romanticism is the relation of the main idea with the nature.
Though Virginia Woolf's creativity belongs to modernism, yet the reader can see the trend of Romanticism throughout her works. These trends are due to the nature of the main characters, as well as the complexity of their characters in terms of psychology. The story The Mark on the Wall abounds in emotional conflicts of the storyteller that can lead to the reader's confusion. Based on the dynamics of the story, it can be concluded that the narrator is a romantic person. One small detail gives rise to a raging stream of emotions that opposes "senseless evidence going deep into the maze of romantic consciousness" (Briggs 76). The story is very poetic, which is an indication of literary romanticism. The length of the sentences ranges from very short to very long, which also indicates the choleric temperament and rebelliousness of the narrator.
Analyzing Virginia Woolf's story The Mark on the Wall, it can be concluded that it contains some trends of Romanticism. In addition, there is a very noticeable influence of Freud's theory of the unconscious. The author resorts to a certain writing technique that is called a counter-intuitive interior monologue, which reproduces the chaos of thoughts and experiences. The writer shows the smallest movements of consciousness. Most of the text is a free associative flow of thoughts in order of their occurrence, in which they interrupt each other and crowd in a form of illogical conglomerations. There are Romanticism tendencies in the story, as evidenced by the dynamics and style of narration. The story is filled with vivid images and descriptions of details associated with nature. Analyzing the story, the reader can feel emotions that arise in the mind of the narrator. Woolf used a very poetic manner of the plot problem. The authoress managed to convey a sense of a bygone era that no one remembers by means of similes and metaphors.
Benzel, Kathryn N, and Ruth Hoberman. Trespassing Boundaries: Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 30 January 2016.
Briggs, Julia. Reading Virginia Woolf (1st Edition). Edinburgh, GB: Edinburgh University Press, 2006. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 30 January 2016.
Sim, Lorraine, Dr. Virginia Woolf. Farnham, GB: Ashgate, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 30 January 2016.
Woolf, Virginia. Monday or Tuesday. London: Hesperus, 2003. Print.