The Hours Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. For what reasons has Virginia Woolf decided to end her life?

In the Prologue to Michael Cunningham's The Hours, Virginia Woolf has decided to end her life for two reasons. She fears the onset of 'madness' again as she is again hearing voices and she can feel the onset of the headaches associated with her condition. In addition, she feels that she has failed as a writer, seeing herself as 'merely a gifted eccentric' (p. 4).

2. Account for Virginia's idea that death means freedom.

Oppressed by her condition and by certain aspects of her life, Virginia comes to believe that to die is the only way to silence the voices and resolve other matters. In her moment of last-minute hesitation, she thinks of the way her life would be if she were in the care of her husband and sister and how they would not 'let her go'. She reconfirms to herself that it is only through death that she will be free. There will be no restraints caused by illness or ministrations of family members.

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