More Mrs. Dalloway-esque examples!

After talking today in class about examples related to Mrs. Dalloway (like Run Lola Run and Community) that showed how intricately our lives are interwoven and how they can affect each other unintentionally, I found myself coming up with a couple more examples and I just thought I would share them.

I’m sure (or I hope) that most of you have read Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.  If so, you will be very familiar with this:

Hermione’s time-turner.  In the book and the film, we see how delicate time really is.  Any single action can alter what happens in the future, and Hermione uses the time-turner not only to attend more classes than her schedule can handle, but she also is able to save Buckbeak from his untimely death by altering history.  Everything Hermione did while going back in time worked in a domino affect and created an alternative outcome to what originally occurred.

The same sort of outcome happens in the movie series Back to the Future.  When Marty McFly initially travels back in time, he accidentally attracts the affections of his own mother (which is very disturbing…).  As he alters history simply by being present in a place/time he shouldn’t have been, parts of the life he once knew (like the house he grew up in) slowly begin to disappear, and he has to help his own two parents fall in love so that he will still be born one day.

One last example I thought of was the collective works of author Sarah Dessen. Most of Dessen’s books (which have been written over the span of 15 years) are based in the fictional town/area of “Lakeview”. Dessen writes the stories as if they are all happening simultaneously.  Her characters cross paths throughout her novels because they all live in the same town, but they appear in a “cameo” sort of way. I’ve had to read her books more than once so that I could actually pick up on the appearances of the characters from other books, because she interweaves them so subtly you wouldn’t pick up on it if you hadn’t read the book that character was from.  So basically she’s taken Woolf’s idea of Mrs. Dalloway, and instead of writing in a continuous flow of streams of consciousness, she writes a complete novel about each person’s life that appears in her stories.  You get to see how the main character in the story you’re currently reading perceives the presence of a character who to them is anonymous but to you, so much more.   By doing this, it makes Dessen’s writing seem that much more realistic!

Anyway, I just love the idea that every single person you meet or action you carry out will put your life down a certain path.  I’m sure I’m going to be noticing other examples of this everywhere now, but I just felt like sharing these three for now!

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9 Responses to More Mrs. Dalloway-esque examples!

  1. rwhittaker says:

    Dayna! I loved reading your post, as after class today I couldn’t stop thinking of examples of where we see “how intricately our lives are interwoven and how they can affect each other unintentionally” as you mentioned. One example of this that I thought of was from the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Benjamin Button’s love interest Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is in the hospital after being hit by a car, and as she is being operated on, Benjamin thinks of all the tiny apparently inconsequential things that had to happen for Daisy to get in the accident. A woman forgets her coat, and has to go back to her house to get it, a man sleeps in past his alarm, another woman’s shoelace breaks, and all of these things among others contribute to Daisy walking out into the middle of the street at the exact moment a car is coming. There is a video of this scene here: – worth watching! Thanks for you post!

  2. teresastapor says:

    I just needed to say how awesome your blog post is! I am a huge fan of pulling classical literature into our pop-culture. Since I am a BIG Harry Potter fan, I loved how you juxtaposed Hermione’s time-turner to Woolf’s idea of a connection in time. We never really realize how little moments in time can change our course of our lives or how important they are. Thanks again for the great post!

  3. stephaniestahl says:

    Great examples! Who doesn’t love Harry Potter and Back to the Future, right? Also, Riley, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is really interesting! I completely forgot about that part in the movie. This is fun to think about, and I always think about how “everything happens for a reason”, like losing your car keys may have been to prevent you from getting in a car accident, or other examples like that. Keep the examples coming! And those Dessen books seem interesting! Thanks for the great post/comments 🙂

  4. stephaniestahl says:

    Also, Reilly, sorry for spelling your name wrong! Still love your example, though! 🙂

  5. mrubling says:

    Love the reference to Sarah Dessen! A few of her books were my favorites during my high school years and I would’ve definitely overlooked her as an example had you not brought it up. Your Harry Potter and Back to the Future examples also reminded me of the novel The Time Traveler’s Wife which also focuses on the point of view of two characters, Henry who travels involuntarily back and forth through time, and his wife Clare who remains in the present.

    In contrast to the style of seamlessly interweaving characters, novels such as George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons approach it in a different way. This latest of the series takes place during the same time period as the preceding book, however through the point of view of 18 characters (each character gets their own ‘chapter’ of the novel), primarily focusing on those not featured in the last book. While I find the multiple POV-technique interesting, in the end his particular technique left me feeling disorientated trying to coordinate the timelines of different characters who are doing different things in different parts of different continents.

    Interesting post!

  6. alexandramueller says:

    This is so cool! Clearly, this post has sparked tonnes of examples, and I feel like I should contribute one more. Throughout the Supernatural series Sam and Dean have gone back in time and met their parents. The first time Dean goes back in time, he spurs his father to buy the Impala which, as the viewers know, is an iconic part of the show present day. Moreover, Sam and Dean being in the past spurred their mother to make the deal with Azazel which screwed Sam over for the first two seasons.
    It’s cool to see how these kinds of things can happen in so many different ways that we can see through all these examples, it’s awe-inspiring to think that our own lives are so intricately connected with everyone around us.

  7. mdrvodelic says:

    Firstly, I just loved the Time Turner comparison!! I love the fact that you focused on how precious time is using the Harry Potter contrast. When reading Mrs. Dalloway I didn’t pay particular attention to that. Interesting take on how just one little thing can affect an entire outcome (as seen in Harry Potter). It made me instantly think of this moment discussed in class, page 2182, when Clarissa and Peter are speaking and Peter is interrupted by Elizabeth. Had Elizabeth never interrupted, what would have happened? What did Peter have to say? How and would Clarissa’s life be altered if this confrontation remained uninterrupted? It’s amazing to think if you could go back and change one event, how would things be different now? Great post, I really enjoyed reading this!

  8. jcdegner says:

    I absolutely adored all of the references you made in your post! I was familiar with all of them, and I thought you made an excellent point regarding how every action we make has a significant impact on our life. It really points out how interconnected everyone is with one another in the world. I am the most familiar with “Back to the Future”, so I will use it as my example. When Marty meets his parents in 1955, he not only changes his own life, but that of his parents’ as well through his various interactions with them. By the time he gets back to the future, he has a far better life, and his parents have a far more stable marriage. This demonstrates how your actions can be extremely beneficial for yourself and those around you. This same principle can be applied to Mrs. Dalloway. Perhaps because of the interactions she had with Peter and Richard throughout her life, one could argue that she improved and completely changed their lives simply by being their friend. Clarissa herself is also changed by these friendships, as they help her become the person that she is. Basically, every person, regardless of who they are, has a significant impact on themselves and those people around them. This ends up causing many changes in the world that individuals perhaps did not originally intend to cause.

  9. kirstymcg says:

    What an interesting post, I also am kind of embarrassingly obsessed with pop culture and so it’s somewhat inevitable that I would try to connect it to literature as much as possible, so it makes me feel better that so many of you also enjoy doing the same, so firstly thanks for making me feel less embarrassed about my obsession.

    With the idea of how intricately interwoven individuals lives are, I couldn’t help but wonder about the idea of fate and it’s connection to all of it. In a way, fate does have a role in the examples you all presented with the original post and the comments. I think that all these examples suggest the importance of fate in the connection of individuals. For example in Mrs. Dalloway, Peter hearing the sound of the ambulance that was going to Septimus is what allows for Woolfe to transition to Peter, if Peter had not been in that exact place he would not have heard the sirens and the story would have not moved to him, if you see what I mean. Essentially all the characters you mentioned go back in time, for example Hermione, to change their/or someone elses’ fate. Question: Does this mean that pop culture is suggesting fate as a fluid concept that is changeable by individuals? I know it’s not suggesting, “Hey! Guess what!? You too can find a clock that turns back time and erase that terrible exam grade!” But I like to think it is making somewhat of a comment on how we are in control of our own fates and have the power to change them.

    I think this is a new concept that has surfaced recently because I don’t know if it is as clearly demonstrated in Mrs. Dalloway as in the contemporary examples, I think concepts such as ‘the secret’ (if you don’t know what that is, you can get the gist of it from this: – it’s an interesting watch if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend!) have made this idea one that writers have grasped onto because being in control of one’s fate is now more appealing to modern audiences/readers.

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