Critics elapses between the beginning and the

Critics have examined Woolf’s story in the light of various philosophical, modernist and scientific traditions, stressing Woolf’s innovative treatment of time and space as she designs her plot. According to literary critic Wayne Narey (1992): “Woolf undertakes the transmutation of a new artistic form, the desire to turn historical fiction into a time/perspective-oriented structure through a motif of light and relativity”. In other words, The Mark on the Wall would be an example of the circular plot in that only a few minutes of the story time elapses between the beginning and the end, and at the end the story virtually returns to the beginning. The dark spot on the wall is the focus of the story that she returns to, periodically anchoring the stream of consciousness. The writer creates a mirror only to turn it into a kaleidoscope: she fixates on a single point, the “mark” of the story’s title, and uses it as both launching point and anchor for her narrator’s reflections on life and fancy. The mark is the canvas upon which Woolf renders both her subjects and the perspective through which they’re seen. She takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of meditations ranging across speculation about the previous owners of the narrator’s home, ruminating on the mystery and chaos of life.
This is a very modernist plot, and generally, in modernist stories, what is said is of lesser importance than how it is said. In his 1978 study Story and Discourse, Seymour Chatman outlines the main difference between traditional and modern narratives: In the traditional narrative of resolution, there is a sense of problem-solving, of things being worked out in some way, of a kind of ratiocinative or emotional teleology. … “What will happen?” is the basic question. In the modern plot of revelation, however, the emphasis is elsewhere; the function of the discourse is not to answer that question nor even to pose it. Early on we gather that things will stay pretty much the same. It is not that events are resolved (happily or tragically), but rather that a state of affairs is revealed.


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