The Lady in the Looking Glass by Virginia Woolf (In process)

Before starting to read the story “The Lady in the Looking Glass”, we did some research based on the following criteria:

  1. Important facts about her life.
  2. Her influence on female writers.
  3. The techniques she introduced.

Who is Virginia Woolf?

  1. Biography

Virginia Woolf was born on the 25th of January 1982 in Kensington, England. As soon as she was born, she suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. She grew up in her father library in which she deeply fell in love with literature.
At the age of thirty, Virginia married a young writer from Cambridge called Leonard Woolf. She escalate quickly to the fame when she published a series of books called “L. And V. Woolf. At the end of her career, she had been the author of fifteen books. She was found drowned at Ouse river in Sussex, England at the age of sixty.

  1. Influence

Unlike many literary inspiring women, Woolf aimed to give credence to unspoken emotions and interpretations we experience daily. She did this not only by placing more traditionally feminine themes at the forefront of her stories but buy penning sentences with a cadence that revealed her inner workings. Woolf was too impressive to be ignored.

  1. Technique

She changes the point of view during the story. She uses chaotic and ordered writing to describe different situations. She uses alliteration, metaphors and personifications to intensify her work.

Circular story

Third person limited narrator (he could never penetrate the characters mind)

In the end Isabella becomes “the narrative voice”.

Opposites coexistence

Triggering event: One could not help looking

Conflict: she realizes she is empty

Resolution: the reader understands how lonely and depressed isabella is.

“One” and “people”

Isabella is any woman in the 19th century (no say at all)

She is just a prodiof society/ she was framed by society.


  • Isolation

  • Female (self)

  • Reality vs superficiality

  • Identity

  • Emptiness

  • Role of women in the 19th century

  • Individual and society

Metaphor of emptiness and mirror.

Motif: (recurrent symbols)

  • Mirror: it shows one self

  • Drawing room

  • Light: it illuminates reality

After this activity, our teacher told us to work over these questions, which can also be found in her blog.

  1. Notice how the mirror in the first paragraph is set up as the frame for a kind of a portrait.
  2. The unnamed narrator attempts to construct a portrait of the Isabella Tyson that consists of her outer self and her inner self. The portrait is reflected in the objects inside and outside the house as they reflect in the mirror.
  3. Describe the images reflected in the mirror.
  4. What kind of contrast is there between the objects inside the house and outside the house, as they are reflected in the mirror?
  5. Describe how the narrator attempts to compose the portrait through the mood inside the room, through her own imagination, and through the presentation of Isabella in the mirror
  6. What are the known facts about Isabella’s outer self?
  7. What material objects inside and outside the house does the narrator use to imagine Isabella’s life?
  8. What are Isabella’s letters supposed to conceal, according to the narrator? What would one know if one could only read them?
  9. At the end of the story, according to the narrator, is it possible to know objectively one’s inner reality?
  10. In this story Woolf questions whether the inner self of an individual is finally knowable. What do you think is her conclusion? Provide support for your statement.
  11. What do you think is the role of the mirror in the story? How has the mirror been used as a metaphor in literature?
  12. Describe the characteristics of this story that resemble stream-of-consciousness narrative technique.

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