– Caos inside the house
– Comparison is superficial
– No one can really see her
-The house and Isabella are 1
-She was a single woman, not very good seen
– There is a personification of the furniture. The furniture know more about her than the people who went to the house and st on the sofa to have any kind of conversation.
– Narrator knew her but not so much, he cannot tell us a lot about her
– Narrator: third person limited ( he could never penetrate the character’s mind)
– In the last part the narrator changes “one” for “she”.
– At the end Isabella becomes the “narrative voice”
– Opposite coexistence
“Nothing stays the same for two seconds together” —-> state of mind, completely crazy, out of her mind
– Climatic moment: when she is in front of the mirror and she discovered herself, she realizes that she is empty (epiphanic moment)
– Themes: emptiness, individual is society, reality vs superficiality, isolation, role or women in the 19th, female (self)
– Metaphor of the mirror
– Motif: a symbol that that appears all along the story —-> in the story
Answers: I worked in class with Milagros Montanelli on this activity given to us by our literature teacher, Pato.
1) Notice how the mirror in the first paragraph is set up as the frame for a kind of a portrait.
In the first paragraph the mirror is set up as the frame for a kind of a portrait that shows Isabella’s personality. Through out we can see that the protagonist is empty, she is completely isolated, the frame is hiding who she really is.
2) The unnamed narrator attempts to construct a portrait of the Isabella Tyson that consists of her outer self and her inner self. The portrait is reflected in the objects inside and outside the house as they reflect in the mirror. Describe the images reflected in the mirror.
The narrator constructs a portrait of Isabella that consists of her outer self and her inner self. The mirror reflects Isabella, her personality and transmitted emptiness. In the outside it reflects her garden with was espectacular, so beautiful that it showed grandness and splendour.
3) What kind of contrast is there between the objects inside the house and outside the house, as they are reflected in the mirror?
Objects inside the house and outside the house were the opposite. Outside the house it was all perfect, flawless and exemplary as Isabella was in the outside of herself. It gives a sense of order and perfection. Objects inside the house were the contrary of the one’s outside. Inside the house it was all a chaos, disorganization, confusion, it gave a sense of unclear things as Isabella’s thoughts. This objects with were inside reflected how Isabella was inside, her inner self. It was a chaos, it showed her state of mind, she was completely crazy, “Nothing stays the same for two seconds together”.
4) Describe how the narrator attempts to compose the portrait through the mood inside the room, through her own imagination, and through the presentation of Isabella in the mirror.
The narrator composed the mood inside the room as one in the middle of a chaos as Isabella was. Something constantly changing. Everything seems to be relay perfect but nothing is like this, it’s all upside down.
5) What are the known facts about Isabella’s outer self?
We don’t know so much about Isabella, no one really knows her and no one can see her, inside. Besides, there are some facts that we do know for example that she ives alone, that her house outside is perfect but int the inside is a chaos, and also that she doesn’t live with anyone else than herself. She gives an impression 0f having a magnificence life full of richness.
6) What material objects inside and outside the house does the narrator use to imagine Isabella’s life?
We know that Isabella is a woman that had travelled a lot over many different places of the world. “the most obscures corners of the world”, we can see that many objects from Isabella’s house were from other parts, so she has a “traveling life”. Also, the letters are a powerful object since they show her as an occupant, working, and interesting woman that cares about society and she is really involved with it. The way she dressed also showed that she cared how people saw her, she cared about appearances.
7) What are Isabella’s letters supposed to conceal, according to the narrator? What would one know if one could only read them? According to the narrator, Isabella’s letters are supposed to have information about her that we don’t know.
8) At the end of the story, according to the narrator, is it possible to know objectively one’s inner reality? Yes, it was possible to see Isabella’s inner reality when she got naked in front if the mirror. She took all of her superficiality off, and that was when we could really see her, and her emptiness. She was completely empty, and have been hiding it through the entire story.
9) In this story Woolf questions whether the inner self of an individual is finally knowable. What do you think is her conclusion? Provide support for your statement. I think that the inner self of an individual is finally knowable, but it isn’t easy. In the context where the story was written, Isabella represented any woman in the 19th century, when women had no say at all. Isabella was just a product of society, and that’s why she was so empty, she had to pretend to be someone that she wasn’t. I think that this story is a criticism to society and the role of women before.
10) What do you think is the role of the mirror in the story? How has the mirror been used as a metaphor in literature? The mirror is very important since it shows the truth. No matter how hard Isabella tried to hide her emptiness, when she looked at the mirror all of her superficiality was gone and was able to see her true inner and real identity.
11) Describe the characteristics of this story that resemble stream-of-consciousness narrative technique. Stream of consciousness: a method of narration that describes happenings in the flow of thoughts in the minds of the characters. On the one hand, we have the narrator building up an image of Isabella while expressing her feeling towards her. On the other hand, we have the writer, Virginia Woolf, who criticized society by expressing her personal thoughts during the story.