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Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries$
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Julie Vandivere and Megan Hicks

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954088

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954088.001.0001

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“The Squeak of the Hinge”: Hinging and Swinging in Woolf and Mansfield

“The Squeak of the Hinge”: Hinging and Swinging in Woolf and Mansfield

(p.150) “The Squeak of the Hinge”: Hinging and Swinging in Woolf and Mansfield
Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries

Gill Lowe

Liverpool University Press

This paper explores the concept of the hinge in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Katherine Mansfield short fiction. It analyses instances of instability in these texts: psychological, postural, cultural, meteorological, diurnal, and seasonal. The argument makes use of Barthes to consider structural “nuclei” (hinge-points) in these narratives. Mrs. Dalloway is set in mid-June at the solstice which is a hinge-point of the year. The novel begins with doors being taken off their hinges and this unhinging leads to moments of enlightenment. The hinge is used metaphorically to suggest freedom and movement in time, space, class, and gender. A hinge both connects and separates. Gates and doors are used to show societal divisions and associations in these fictions. The hinge is considered as a paradoxical site of potential; a locus of decision-making or undecidability; of opening and closing; of “swinging both ways”. This trope is rich in significance and the paper considers a variety of related ideas: axels, still points, rotation, oscillation, liminality, translation, transition and trespass.

Keywords:   Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, Mansfield, Barthes, hinge-points, gates, swinging, liminality, undecidability, paradoxical

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