Street Haunting Virginia Woolf Analysis

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In Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting”, the reader follows Woolf through a winter’s walk through London under the false pretense to buy a new pencil. During her journey through the streets of London, she is made aware of a number of strangers. The nature of her walk is altered by these strangers she encounters. Street Haunting comes to profound conclusions about the fluidity of individuality when interacting with other people. Woolf is enabled by the presence of others to subvert her individuality. Instead of reflecting directly onto herself, she uses the people she interacts with as a proxy for her own feelings and opinions. In doing so, Woolf empathizes with the people while engaging in a cold deconstruction of her surroundings, making the …show more content…

Woolf makes a point to disengage with her environment. She mandates that she not allow herself to become too absorbed with any one person or their story. Instead she ought to treat each moment as a if it were fleeting, saying “Let us dally a little longer, be content still with surfaces only” (2) This is instruction is literal, Woolf believes that engaging with her setting will remove the joy from vapid displays of beauty. She even compares such an experience to a sugary diet, lacking in nutrition but desirable nevertheless (2). Consequently, what she makes from the “fluff” of her walk will be a reflection of herself. Like any creative medium, work produced from raw materials can be more telling of it’s creator than the subject itself. Choosing to interact with things at face value speaks volumes about Woolf as an …show more content…

Woolf uses omnipotent language when sharing the anecdote about the dwarf such as “She was thinking” and “she said to herself” as if to imply that she knows the mind of this supposed stranger. Simply by observing the dwarf, Woolf is made aware of the dwarf’s afflictions. For a brief moment, a new parallel between the two women. After completing her purchase, the dwarf’s “the ecstasy faded, knowledge returned, the old peevishness, the old apology came back, and by the time she had reached the street again she had become a dwarf only” (3) Both Woolf and the dwarf are indulging in escapism during their separate journeys. The dwarf goes shopping to forget her disability, to feel desirable, and Woolf goes walking to escape her solitude (1). She doesn’t focus commonality but rather accepts it to be a through of her fleeting surroundings. There is a familiarity without compassion. Woolf employs a similar familiarity when regarding the other strangers of her walk. Wolf has a fluid sense of self, which isn’t strongly connected to a singular moment or

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