This essay is again criticising the materialism of Edwardianwriters.
Woolf is trying to convince that writers as Arnold Bennet are wrongonly focusing on the character-creation and forgetting about the plot, thestyle, or the originally outlook. Furthermore, Woolf defends that even theircharacter-creation is flat and what really makes a point is the real, true, andconvincing character. The newcharacter-creation must see the human mind with perspective, trying to bringreal world issues to the literature, and for that changes are needed. Woolf quoted “On or about December 1910 humancharacter changed (…) and when human relations change there is at the same timea change in religion, conduct, politics and literature.” In this date wasassembled the exhibition Manet and thePost-Impressionists by Roger Fry, in order to awake a sleepy Englandshowing the new styles in painting that has been shocking Europe for years,introducing the Cubism and the Fauves. With her quote, Woolf is trying toexplain that the literature is obsolete and cannot represent a true reality,which is exactly what those materialist writers were doing. Woolf, in her objective to teach how to writerightfully through fail after fail until reach perfection, tries to explainwhat and how modern fiction should write about through a story.
In the story wehave two relevant figures, Mrs. Brown and Mr. Bennet with the objective toreach Arnold Bennet’s mind and make him see the truth behind the story. This truthwould be the myriad impressions he could get from the first look to Mrs. Brown,because “Mrs.
Brown can be treated in an infinite variety of ways, according tothe age, country, and temperament of the writer”. After expose Mrs Brown´s character,Woolf asks Bennet “what reality is and who judges that reality”. There are so many possibilities to the right answerthat none can reach perfection but as writers we must keep still. Arnold Bennetwrote the character of Hilda Lessways as if she was alone in the world as areal character, but she is not even the principal voice of the story. It isArnold Bennet.
“Suddenly Hilda heard her mother’s voice…’ But we cannot hearher mother’s voice, or Hilda’s voice; we can only hear Mr. Bennett’s voicetelling us facts about rents and freeholds and copyholds and fines”. Hilda isinexistent while Mrs Brown is presence in every stage of the story. Not onlyher, but every character included from the beginning to the end leave a sign. “ForWoolf, everyone experiences a myriad thoughts, feelings, and impressions intheir day-to-day life, and this is real life, the stuff ofwhich real characters should be made, rather than the flesh-and-bloodmaterialism (and focus on economic factors) which a writer like Arnold Bennettuses to make his characters real” (interestingliterature).In addition, along the story, Woolf declares the feminineemancipation. She points up to the Edwardians and give as example the characterof Hilda. “How shall I begin to describe this woman’s character? And they said:’Begin by saying that her father kept a shop in Harrogate.
(…) for I knew thatif I began describing the cancer and the calico, my Mrs. Brown, that vision 15to which I cling though I know no way of imparting it to you, would have beendulled and tarnished and vanished for ever”. While Hilda is beneath a manfigure, Mrs Brown can protest and make a clearly difference on character.To sum up, Woolf is again trying to connect and guideevery writer through others writer´s mistakes.
She is the personification ofMrs Brown, an independent woman strong enough to act as a muse for anyone whocatch her. This metaphor is only a manifest shout from Woolf in order to bringlife to the modernist literature and advance to new horizons.