Woolf`s The Duchess and the Jeweller

“The Duchess and the Jeweller”
Modernism and Virginia Woolf
• New means of
transportation, such as
the steamship, the
railroad, the automobile,
and the airplane.
• Other technologies, such
as the telegraph and the
• People were living in
large cities, and the
world population more
than tripled.
World War I
World War I
World War I took place mainly in Europe
It was the most mechanized war to date
It killed fifteen million people.
After the United States joined the war in 1917
the Allies (France, Britain, Italy) repelled
Germany from the Western Front (in Belgium
and France).
• In the East, Germany and Austria-Hungary
drove into Russian territory, which led to the
establishment of a Communist dictatorship
under Lenin.
Communist Russia
Russia’s near-defeat contributed to the Revolution of 1917, with
Lenin establishing a Communist “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
• Nazism arose as a
National Socialist
Movement and came to
power under Adolf Hitler
in 1933
• The Nazis’ agenda
included national
rearmament and
authoritarian politics
held together by the glue
of anti-Semitism.
The Final Solution
Starting in 1941, Hitler authorized the
Final Solution, aimed at destroying the
Jewish people, exterminating six
million Jews and several million Poles,
Gypsies, homosexuals, and political
enemies of the Nazis.
Great Depression
Great Depression
• Beginning on October 24, 1929, the stock
market crash heralded the Great Depression.
• Within a few years, a third of American
workers were unemployed; hunger and
joblessness spread throughout the
industrialized world.
• Franklin Roosevelt was able to reverse the
worst effects of the Depression in the United
States with the New Deal, which included
public works spending and the introduction of
Social Security.
World War II
World War II began after Hitler’s military force invaded
Poland in 1939. Germany allied itself with Fascist Italy
and authoritarian Japan, which had earlier conquered
Korea and occupied China. The United States entered
the war after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl
Linked political crises with the crisis of representation.
break with literary conventions including plots, verse
forms, narrative techniques, and the boundaries of genre
Charles Darwin - the animal nature of human existence is
Karl Marx - the struggle between social classes is the
main drive of history
Friedrich Nietzsche - attacked a belief in God and the
conviction that humans are fundamentally rational
Sigmund Freud - stress on the unconscious and power of
sexual and destructive instincts
Writers had significant mobility, often studying or working
away from their native residences.
Scientific Advances
Scientists found that the natural
world does not necessarily function
in the way it appears to. Albert
Einstein’s theory of relativity and
other discoveries, such as
radioactivity, X-rays, and quantum
theory, presented counterintuitive
understanding of the physical
universe that conflicted with
classical Netwonian physics and
even common sense.
• The great modern
novelists, including
Conrad, Proust, Joyce,
and Woolf wrote realistic
works in the manner of
Flaubert or Tolstoy.
• However, they shifted
toward interiority and
focused on the limited
perspective of an
individual, often
idiosyncratic character.
Asian writers embraced
Communist or Socialist
politics and a related
style of politically
engaged fiction. Their
works—as in
Ryunosuke, Jun’ichiro,
Fusako and Man-sik,
often blend modern
techniques with old
folklore or cultural
practices of earlier Japan
to make a political
During the 1930s, a group
of African and Caribbean
intellectuals, led by Léopold
Senghor and Aimé Césaire,
met in Paris (where they
were pursuing higher
education) and formed the
Negritude movement,
which celebrated the
culture of Africa and the
African Diaspora to provide
leadership for decolonized
Test Your Knowledge
Which event had arguably the greatest impact on the
early twentieth century?
the Russian Revolution of 1917
the Great Depression
the Second World War
the First World War
While each of these events was world changing, nothing
compared to the destabilizing impact of the First World War.
Death and destruction on that scale had previously been
unknown—even unimaginable—for most people.
Test Your Knowledge
Modernist artists depended primarily on which of the
Literature across the globe
responded to world-changing
events (world wars, revolutions,
financial collapse) with an
unprecedented wave of artistic
experimentation, as though the
previous modes and forms of
art were simply no longer able
to capture, recreate, or express
the shocking realities of the
modern world.
Test Your Knowledge
Fiction that includes references to itself is called:
__________ .
stream of consciousness fiction
experiential fiction
A story or novel, for example, might address the reader as he or she is in the
act of reading. Thus the very act of consuming art (whether reading,
listening, or watching) becomes part of the art being consumed. (This
technique is also known as self-referentiality.)
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, a notable historian, author, and critic and
Julia Stephen, a renowned beauty.
Was raised in an environment filled with the influences of Victorian
literary society. Henry James, George Henry Lewes, and James Russell
Lowell were among the visitors to the house. She was taught the classics
and literature.
The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was 13, and that
of her half-sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginia's several
nervous breakdowns.
The death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and
she was briefly institutionalized.
Virginia Stephen married writer Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912. They
were closely bonded in their marriage and professionally (founders of
Hogarth Press).
The onset of World War II, the destruction of her London home during
the Blitz, and the cool reception given to her biography of her late friend
Roger Fry all worsened her condition until she was unable to work. On
28 March 1941, Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones,
walked into the River Ouse near her home, and drowned herself.
Feminism and her work
Woolf is known for her precise evocations of states of mind
and body.
She explored (directly in her essays and indirectly in her novels
and short stories) the situation of women in society, the
construction of gender identity and the predicament of the
woman writer.
Though unmarried, she lived with several men (some of them
openly homosexuals), challenging the social conventions.
Her poetic use of language brings to life the concrete,
sensuous details of everyday experience.
She explores the structures of consciousness. Her focus was
not on the object under observation, but on the observer’s
perception of it.
The Duchess and the Jeweller
A mirror of English soceity
It was an age of transition.
The high-ups (Duchess) were coming down because of their
moral decadence and the commoners (Jeweler) were taking
lead in spite of their obsessions.
Oliver Bacon had become so important that each day he
received invitation cards from the aristocracy of the English
society. Even the Duchess of Lambourne waited for his
pleasure outside his private office.
The Duchess was always in financial difficulties because of her
moral decadence. She gambled. To arrange for the money she
sold fake pearls to Oliver twice but this was not all. She had so
much moral decadence that she used Diana, her daughter, to
entrap Oliver Bacon.
How did the Duchess induce
Oliver Bacon into buying fake
Friendly address - she started calling him ‘dear Mr.
Bacon’. Then, she called him an ‘old friend’ four times.
Then she addressed him by his first name.
Using her daughters - she mentioned the name of her
daughters and told him that she was selling the pearl
only for them. She knew that Oliver loved Diana.
Taking advantage of his inferiority complex - She invited
him to a party at her estate. She induced him by telling
him that the Prime Minister, his Minister, his Royal
Highness, and Diana would be there.
She cries.
What obsession did Oliver Bacon
have in spite of becoming one of
the richest jewelers of England?
We find that the jeweler had two obsessions. Firstly, he
wanted more and more wealth. It appears that his greed
did not have an end. Secondly, he had inferiority
complex and wanted to move among aristocratic circles
to satisfy this complex.
“They were friends, yet enemies; he was
master, she was mistress; each cheated
the other, each needed the other, each
feared the other.”
Oliver Bacon was a commoner. Later, he became the richest
jeweler of England. On the other hand, the duchess was the
member of the aristocracy by birth. Therefore, there was a
great class difference between the two. These two classes could
never be friends. However, the duchess was forced to call him
an ‘old friend’ because of her moral decadence and financial
Oliver became the richest jeweler of England by using fair and
unfair means. Therefore, he was a master in the sense that he
was a great cheat. On the other hand, the Duchess was a cheat
too. She induced the jeweler into buying the fake pearls.
Both needed each other. She needed him for money and he
needed her to go the party to be with her daughter. In spite of
that, both feared each other because each knew the secrets of
the other.
Group discussion
Group 1: Morality
Group 2: Class struggles
Group 3: Women’s rights