Blog Response – The Hours (ENGL329B)

1. The Hours is a book that closely mirrors Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The novel follows three women, one of whom is Virginia Woolf, and analyzes their thought processes. The novel also takes from Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness, a style that follows the thought processes of the characters, and can be viewed as insane, but is something we all do. The novel also ponders issues pertaining to straight/LGBT relationships and mental illness, such as the real affliction that VIrginia Woolf almost certainly faced.

2. The Hours, the film, is a very successful film that won several awards. The most notable piece of Hollywood’s influence in this film is Nicole Kidman’s prosthetic nose. She plays Virginia Woolf in the film and this is viewed by her as having the infamous nose and a perpetual scowl. Her unhappiness ultimately culminates in suicide which is furthered by her acting, which won her an Oscar for best actress.

3. The adaptation is fairly close when we compare it to the films we have previously viewed. The three women are followed throughout a single day and their lives are chronicled from their point of view. The film is pared down from the expansive novel, as is the case in most adaptations. The most worthy facet to note is how the performance of the actors makes the movie much more depressing than the film. It is one thing to read about the effects of AIDS on the human body and then it is very different to actually see it play out.


This interview with Nicole Kidman has her talking about how the negative experiences in her life have given her the inspiration to transform herself for her roles, most notably her role as Virginia Woolf. What one should consider is that Virginia Woolf’s sadness was influenced greatly by her mental illness. She most certainly suffered greatly (sexual abuse) but Nicole Kidman derives her motivation solely from her experiences, or at least that is all we are given.

The late and great Roger Ebert reviews the hours, and notes that the ending shows an emotional vortex is created for those that do not have love in their life.

While obviously biased, this review does make the interesting argument that the film wraps the points it tries to make in such suffering and sadness that it is difficult to create a conflicting opinion.

5. How does homosexuality (including lesbianism) function within the film?

I think the most critical homosexual character in the film is Richard Brown, as he subtly controls Clarissa to the point that she cares for him, regardless of her commitment to her partner. His illness (AIDS) is such that the repugnancy of his control over her is castrated by his immense suffering and impending death. But that begs the question of whether he would hold her to his side through the memory of their relationship or not if he was healthy. Regardless, their homosexuality and lesbianism reflects a rejection of what they once had, but somehow Richard creates a sinkhole that keeps Clarissa on his side, even when he ends his own life, removing himself from the possibility of another shared moment of happiness. The complexities of his character (namely his homosexuality and continues relationship with Clarissa) and the way he controls Clarissa show the critical nature of sexual identity and its interaction with the lives and relationships of these characters.


4 thoughts on “Blog Response – The Hours (ENGL329B)

  1. Brittany W

    It is interesting that you say Richard controls Clarissa with his illness. This was not the feeling I got from the film. Particularly because he asks Clarissa why he should keep taking his pills, why he should eat. Basically he asks her “is this as good as it gets?” I think Richard was suffering and wanted to die for a long time, but maybe his attachment to Clarissa (and vice versa) kept him around. After all, they did share intimate moments together when they were younger (though for some reason they are not together anymore). I am just not sure I could see it as manipulating her, but I think you argue your point well.

  2. Joseph E. Byrne

    Decent analysis of the book, film, and adaptation. It could be more incisive. For instance, it’s not very analytical to focus your discussion of the film on the awards it won and Kidman’s nose (which, in my mind, was a gimmick that won her an Oscar). In your online research, you should stop going for reviews and instead do searches for academic articles using the UMD library database and online journals. Helpful hints:

    Your critical argument paragraph has the makings of a good argument, but it’s could be better developed. And I challenge your suggestion that it is his homosexuality that makes Richard such a controlling person. It’s his sickness, his death, that he uses to control her and his sexual orientation really has nothing to do with it. I suppose you could put in historical context and talk about this kind of manipulation during the AIDS epidemic but, again, this is only marginally about sexual orientation.

    10/10. Joseph Byrne. ENGL329B.

  3. melindayoon

    Although I can understand your take of the Richard, I do not entirely agree. Yes, we do not know much of their relationship prior to what the film presents to us, but because of how reluctant Richard is in his character with many life experiences (such as the simple receiving of the prize that honors his literary talents), he exerts a notion that it was not himself that made Clarissa succumb to a life of taking care of him, which is ultimately why he wanted to take his life. He tells her that “you cannot find peace by avoiding life,” which is the exact philosophy that encourages him to take his own life, and not necessarily the act of “creating a sink hole” keeping Clarissa by his side. The homosexuality within the film exerts a motif about relationships and being able to connect to certain mediums within such a society that has to “define” everything.

  4. Pingback: Student blog responses | melindayoon and English Literature on film

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