Narrowing My Focus and Moving Forward with Virginia Woolf (Update #2)

     Research, as I have often been told and am now experiencing, is a process. Part of that process is narrowing the focus of one’s research question in order to more properly convey the information one has learned and the implications one draws from said information. In my previous blog post, I discussed my plan to investigate symbols of unattainable goals as they relate to the solitary, individual self in the works of Woolf and Beckett. However, in order to further narrow my research topic, I have decided to cut Samuel Beckett’s work from my research. Instead, I will focus only on Virginia Woolf.

     When I chose my research topic in March, I assumed that Woolf and Beckett were able to be compared solely because of their post-war experiences. However, as I read through their works, I found that this was not the case. The approximately thirty year difference in the times of their writing made comparing their works and experiences difficult. In addition, Beckett’s fragmented, stream of consciousness, nearly incoherent writing style is much different than Woolf’s use of free indirect discourse. While Beckett’s novels tend to break down conventional style to the point of having sentences span pages, Woolf chooses to manipulate conventional style rather than eliminate it completely. It would have been extremely difficult to unite the works of these two authors cohesively under a single research question; doing so would probably take me longer than the summer of 2018.

     Therefore, I will move forward in my research by focusing solely on Woolf. After four weeks of research, I have finished reading the novels that I will base my final paper on. I will go on to search for scholarly articles on To the Lighthouse, The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway, The Voyage Out, The Years, and possibly Between the Acts. Depending on the sources I find, I may not include some of these works in my paper. The question that I will try to answer is: How does the issue of the isolated, individual self conflict with Woolf’s process of creating characters? For, as Nicholas asks in The Years, “If we do not know ourselves, how can we know other people?”

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