BTA Blog: WARNING! Construction in Progress, Proceed with Care.
Just wanting to get some thoughts down before they evaporate, or fade-away, or scramble off with some other cute little idea that happens by....
I admit it, I'm coming out of the closet -- well, maybe not a closet, how about the back bedroom -- back to my point, I admit it: I'm coming out of the back-bedroom to admit that I like plot. I like multi-layered, fully formed characters whom I get to know, like, and sympathize and empathize and maybe even fantasize with or about or on. Yes, Virginia Woolf does give us characters, but she gives us just enough about these people that we must "guess the rest," or she gives us characters that are stereotypes so that we as educated readers know the rest. Finally in Between the Acts, we do have plot. Or do we? I'm only on page 66 (one digit short of being the Antichrist -- so don't be alarmed), so I'm not sure if this will follow the typical plot structure or not.
I feel that there is an introduction, and Giles certainly is acting like there may be some conflict on the horizon as he sits about so tensely I picture him to be white-knuckling. He mentions something (unfortunately I didn't mark it) about how can these people gad about so gayly (the 1930's definition, not the current definition -- "not that there's anything wrong with that") when there is such tension between the countries. His homophobia certainly could rise to a head (no pun intended). Before I leave this whole issue of plot behind me, I must, oh, yes, I must refer to page 63: "Did the plot matter?... The plot was only there to beget emotion... There was no need to puzzle out the plot... Don't bother about the plot: the plot's nothing." Is she telling us the reader not to bother looking for a plot because if it's there, it's nothing? Woolf doesn't really tell a story; does she? She relates impressions, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and images. We see not into the character's mind, but hers.
Sometimes when I write these things I'm afraid to say what I would really like to say for all the same old reasons that people don't say or do what they really want. Fear. Alienation - negative thoughts: vulnerability will do that do you. And plus, this should be scholarly right. And another thing, who wants to be wrong and feel like you walked into school naked (egads, I always hated that dream). But, so far, I think the book is about women because it appears to present so many types of women: the old matronly, widowed sister; the foreign(ish), creative woman; the doting wife; and the cougar. Because doesn't Manresa strike you as being a cougar? Do you think she realizes that William is gay (our definition, not the 1930's definition)? I suppose all the stereotypical men are represented also: the staunch, old patriarch; the up-and-coming, oldest son; the misfit or homosexual who was bullied in school.
And another thing that I've noticed, and maybe this has been mentioned before in class. See, that's another problem I have. I sometimes think that I have a light-bulb moment, only to realize later that the thought was already embedded in my brain by someone else's previous conversation....so, this may not be new stuff. What I'm saying is this, "This probably isn't an epiphany, just an old thought, disinterred, and regurgitated." Conversation as Woolf writes it is clipped. If someone talked to me, like these characters talked to each other, I'd think that they had flipped, like -- gone crazy man (sorry, I dropped into 60's speech). It's in between the conversations that the poetry of her words shine. Melba Cuddy-Keane comments that Woolf writes in a hybrid style that mixes prose and verse. I have come to see this with this novel.
If I come up with any other ideas after reading the rest of the book, I'll put it here, because this has been more of a diarrhea of the mind, everything coming out without any filter...will I be brave enough to let it stand, or will I filter it later. In time, we'll have that answer.
Woolf, Virginia. Between the Acts. Ed. Mark Hussey. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2008. Print.