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Discerning the Self: Reviewing Karen DeMeester's "Trauma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway"

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Modern & Postmodern Fictions Alice Wei Prof. Cecilia Liu Discerning the Self: Reviewing Karen DeMeester's "Trauma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway" One of the essential motifs in Mrs. Dalloway is discerning the subjectivity in the process of initiation. Both of the leading characters-Clarissa and Septimus-being the center in the novel quest for self-recognition and the essence of life in different ways. In the approach of psychoanalysis, Septimus as the inner self of Clarissa reminds her painful memory embedded in her mind. In the aspect of social institution, Septimus and Clarissa encounter the formidable rule that one's subjectivity is constructed by society. In light of knowing the self, this review attempts to illuminate the neglect of DeMeester's discourse on the relation of trauma and recovery entrapped in the psychoanalysis in his "Trauma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway." Reading Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway in the approach of psychoanalysis, DeMeester in his essay makes Woolf's narrative form identical to the psychological effects of trauma and gives paradoxical discourse of recovery based on trauma. ...read more.


In the respect of discerning the self, the subjectivity of human beings is retrieved in the process of tracing back to their trauma and is also constructed by social institutions, the social order, without separating trauma from social institutions. To Septimus, his personal trauma is one part of universal stigma. As a warrior, his neurosis after World War I presents the despair and desolation of all mankind. That is, all his personal symptoms in trauma rightly refer to the morbidity in the whole society. In DeMeester's essay, Dr. Holmes and Sir William Bradshaw illustrating the dominance of culture "suggests that such conventional activities are more representative of reality and truth than what Septimus experienced and learned in war" (661). This statement seems that the author separates mankind's psychological state from the social community when he discusses the trauma effects to Septimus. He merely focuses on one thing-Septimus's trauma symptoms are the disturbance to communicate with others and on another thing-Septimus is resisted by members of the community. ...read more.


Though she tries to find her values from hosting a party, she is still unseen, unknown by social conventions to connect the feelings of one man to the other instead of concerning her own affections. On discerning the self, this review essay puts psychological phases of trauma and ideologies of social community into consideration. The whole being of mankind is constructed by semiotic drives and symbolic orders interacted. In fact, DeMeester's putting cause and effect on the relation of trauma and recovery is probably to make a monolithic conclusion in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. To Septimus, he has self-consciousness to aware the stigma made by the brutality of social rules and to think about the true meanings of life and death. By this viewpoint, Septimus is in the quest of discerning of his subject. Only clarifying the subjectivity of mankind with both psychological and social factors, can men regain recovery from the trauma. Through facing their trauma and past memory directly, men have chances to wake up from the past nightmares and to consummate themselves a whole human being. ...read more.

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