Essay: Her Attention

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[. . .] This letter therefore provides a complex glimpse not only of what life and humanity means to an individual, but also on how the landscape itself interacts with this internal psychological landscape. Towards the end, Mrs. De Sevigne, for example, claims to prefer the solitude of the countryside beyond all else.

Just like Mrs. De Sevigne becomes a living being through her letters, "The Humane Art" describes Horace Walpole's letters as works that provide information for "posterity." Whereas the perpetuity of Mrs. De Sevigne's character was almost a subconscious feat, Walpole consciously manipulates the art to ensure the longevity of his words.

According to Ms. Woolf, Horace Walpole wrote extensively for posterity by using inspiration from the friends he had in several specialist areas. These include "literature" and "society," where Walpole chose each "friend" not for his or her friendship, but for his or her ability to contribute to the subject matter he wished to explore and eternalize for future generations. Hence, it was a far more organized attempt at letter writing than the one by Mme. De Sevigne.

By writing his letters, Walpole uses those he writes to and talks to in order to create his own landscape of his life and experiences. Woolf lists the various elements Walpole describes, including politics and the revolution, as well as minor elements of life such as a snuffbox, a red riband, and two small black dogs. Hence, he is able to bring to life the landscape of his world for his readers of the future.

As such, this essay, also concerns the perpetuity of life beyond the individual concern for life, experience, and death. By writing, both Mme. De Sevigne and Walpole are able to provide individuals with a type of time travel device that extends beyond the years or the suffering of an individual. In this way, they transcend the concerns of the previous essays, where individuals were concerned with their own lives, deaths, and experiences. The letters writers create and perpetuate their own individual experiences for others in the future.

"Twelfth Night' at the Old Vic'" provides a similar glimpse into the world of the past, but with the added dimension of dramatic art. The essay begins by considering the nature of Shakespeare lovers. Woolf notes that they are either theater goers, readers, or both. She goes on to explain the respective advantages of experiencing Shakespeare's work on stage and in reading. The author compares the experience of the play with the experience of music.

Words constantly result in other words, much like a musical piece. This is the experience that reading brings to the mind. However, the author also points out that Shakespeare wrote for the stage and that this art form should be explored for the potential beauty it can also create in visual form.

The author describes a stage created for "Twelfth Night" and does so in vibrant color. She explores how the collective mind of the audience works to imagine the world envisioned by Shakespeare when writing his play. As such, a glimpse is provided not only into the language of Shakespeare's day, but also into the visual world he might have envisioned for his actors. In the "Old Vic" the stage provides a gateway into the world of the past and helps theater goers experience it by using their imaginations combined with what they see on the stage.

As such, the comment the author makes about life here is that art provides valuable access to enjoyment in life. In this way, there is escape from the everyday concerns of human experience. By enjoying a play or any art form, the individual is separated for a while from his or her own concerns with death, experience, and suffering. As such, the play represents a kind of twilight, where both death, life, fear, and suffering are perpetual in the lives of the characters. By experiencing these vicariously through the characters, the individual is both removed from and reminded of the elements of daily life.

In conclusion, Virginia Woolf's essays provide a glimpse of life for her readers. From the death of the moth up to the higher-order concerns of the Shakespeare reader and the letter writer, life and death are both inescapable truths. Although not everybody suffers in the manner of Mrs. Grey, all readers can sympathize with her constant pain. Through darkness and light and by providing symbols of light and darkness, Ms. Woolf offers her readers with some profound ideas and thoughts around life. By considering death and suffering, her comments focus on the joy that might nevertheless be gained from life. Death, experience, and the loss of innocence are what make life worthwhile and entertainment worth having. By exploring Ms. Woolf's work, it is interesting to find the motif of light and darkness that pervades many of her essays. In each essay, the context dictates the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Her Attention.  (2014, April 13).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attention-number/7302137

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"Her Attention."  13 April 2014.  Web.  19 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attention-number/7302137>.

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"Her Attention."  Essaytown.com.  April 13, 2014.  Accessed June 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attention-number/7302137.