Isolation and Communication A Stylistic Analysis of Thought Presentation in Mrs. Dalloway

Hua Guo


Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is well-acclaimed for its almost non-intrusive portrayal of characters’ state of mind. Many studies approach it from biographical, socio-historical, philosophical, and other non-linguistic perspectives, and most linguistic investigations deal with illustrative examples of a single linguistic device in this novel. Few are concerned with the presence of particular linguistic patterns that explain how the intricate flow of thought is successfully depicted. This paper offers a detailed elaboration on the criteria for categorizing thought presentation in Leech& Short’s model and distinguishes cases of ambiguity. A case study of Mrs. Dalloway’s flower purchase scene illustrates how different types of thought presentation along with different reporting clauses are used to convey the variation in the character’s mental state and the negotiation between her inner voice and the outside world.



thought presentation, Mrs. Dalloway, stream of consciousness

Full Text:



Banfield, A. (1982). Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Banfield, A. (2000). The Phantom Table: Woolf, Fry, Russell and the Epistemology of Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blakemore, D. (2009). Parentheticals and point of view in free indirect style. Language and Literature, 18(2), 129–153.

Chatman, S. (1978). Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Cohn, D. (1978). Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.

DeMeester, K. (1998). Trauma and recovery in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, 44(3), 649-673.

Dick, S. (2001). Literary realism in Mrs. Dalloway,To the lighthouse, Orlando and the Waves. In Roe, S. & S. Sellers (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (pp.50-71). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Ehrlich, S. (1990). Point of View: A Linguistic Analysis of Literary Style. London: Routledge.

Fludernik, M. (1993). The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction. London: Routledge.

Fludernik, M. (2005). Speech presentation. In D. Herman et al (Eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (pp. 558-563). London & New York: Routledge.

Fryer, R. (1998). Vision and Design. London: Dover.

Hernadi, P. (1972). Dual perspective: Free indirect discourse and related techniques. Comparative Literature, 24, 32-43.

Humphrey, R. (1954). Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ikeo, R. (2015).Speech and thought presentation. In V. Sotirova (Ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Stylistics (pp. 356-379). London: Bloomsbury.

Jouve, N. W. (2001). Virginia Woolf and psychoanalysis. In Roe, S. & S. Sellers (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (pp.245-272). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Lambert, D. (2011). The Shifting Points of View in Virginia Woolf’s Novel Mrs. Dalloway: Rooms,

Corridors, and Houses. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Leech, G. N., & Short, M. H. (1981). Style in Fiction---A Linguistic Introduction to English Fictional Prose. New York: Longman.

McHale, B. (1978). Free indirect discourse: A survey of recent accounts. PTL, 3, 249–278.

McHale, B. (2009). Speech representation. In P. Huhn et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Narratology (pp. 249-287). Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Naremore, J. (1973).World without a Self: Virginia Woolf and the Novel. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Page, N. 1988[1973].Speech in the English Novel. London: Longman.

Roberts, J. H. (1946). “Vision and Design” in Virginia Woolf. PMLA, 61, 835-847.

Roe, S. (2001). The impact of post-impressionism. In Roe, S. & S. Sellers (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (pp. 164-190). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Semino, E., & Short, M. (2004). Corpus Stylistics: Speech, Writing, and Thought Presentation in an English Corpus of Writing. London: Routledge.

Shen, D. (1991). Reevalution of functions of free indirect speech. Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 2, 11-16.

Short, M., Semino, E., & Culpeper, J. (1996). Using a corpus for stylistics research: speech and thought presentation. In Thomas, J. & M. Short (Eds.), Using Corpora in Language Research. London: Longman.

Simpson, P. (1993). Language, Ideology and Point of View. London: Routledge.

Sotirova, V. (2004). Connectives in free indirect style: Continuity or shift? Language and Literature, 13(3), 216–234.

Sotirova, V. (2013). Consciousness in Modernist Fiction: A Stylistic Study. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Toolan, M. (2008[1996]). Language in Literature: An Introduction to Stylistics. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Whitworth, M. (2001). Virginia Woolf and modernism. In Roe, S. & S. Sellers (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf (pp.146-163). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Whitworth, M. (2015). Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway. London: Palgrave.

Woolf, V. (1978). Mrs. Dalloway. London: Granada.

Wyatt, J. (1986). Avoiding self-definition: In defense of women's right to merge (Julia Kristeva and Mrs. Dalloway). Women's Studies, 13, 115-126.

Zunshine, L. (2003). Theory of mind and experimental representations of fictional consciousness. Narrative, 11(3), 270–291.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.