1. Analysis of the Book
The Hours by Michael Cunningham describes the lives of Virginia Woolf, Clarissa Vaughan, and Laura Brown, and how one book, Mrs. Dalloway, connects the lives of the three women together. Through the assigned readings, Virginia Woolf commits suicide and Clarissa Vaughan plans a party for her sick friend. In the novel inspired by the real Virginia Woolf, the three women live in three separate decades (1920s, 1950s, and 2000s). The novel is written as a long stream of consciousness of the women. Its themes include death, mental illness, and LGBT issues.
2. Analysis of the Film
The Hours’ film adaptation was directed by Stephan Daldry and released in 2002. Similar to its novel counterpart, the film focuses on the lives of Virginia Woolf, Clarissa Vaughan, and Laura Brown. It stays true of the novel’s themes by showing how death is dealt between the women and how mental illness impacts their lives. Each woman is forced to deal with her own different problems, but they are all interconnected in some way.
3. Analysis of the Adaptation
The film adaptation of The Hours stays true to Michael Cunningham’s novel. Daldry spreads the three different stories throughout the film and shows how they interconnect with one another. He shows how each woman deals with mental illness and human responsibilities that everyone faces. The film successfully keeps the novel’s message and themes by focusing on the characters’ emotions.
4. Online Research on the Film
Kate Kellaway’s interview with Stephan Daldry shows that Daldry knew the risks in filming The Hour, but he loved the form of the novel and the different emotional impacts it had.
Robert Ebert’s review argues that the film focuses more on the responsibilities of humans and their emotions rather than the three women’s understanding of their sexuality or feminism.
In Andre Soares’ review of The Hours argues that while the story is deeply moving, Laura Brown’s story is the weakest of the three women. Another problem that Soares had was with Ed Harris’ portrayal of Richard as only an angry AIDS victim. There was never a sense from Harris that Richard had any other emotion but bitterness about his sickness. On the other hand, Soares praises Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman’s performances as Clarissa and Virginia Woolf as moving and emotional. Even though there were several elements missing from the film the film still offers human drama and hits strong emotions.
5. Critical Argument Paragraph
Stephan Daldry’s The Hours show the impact of avoiding life and human responsibilities. Many times throughout the film, all three women are faced with life challenges that are unavoidable. While the side characters attempt to bring the three women back into the realities of the situations, the women try to avoid their responsibilities until after the consequences appear. In Virginia Woolf’s story, Woolf clearly shows her frustration in writing and in life. Even when her husband and sister attempt to help her with her mental illness, they only drive her into a deeper depression. On the other hand, Clarissa uses Richard’s illness to avoid life. She puts Richard’s life before anything else, and risks her relationship with Sally and her work. Although Virginia ends up committing suicide, Clarissa is forced to face the consequence of avoiding her life when Richard commits suicide in front of her. Clarissa gets thrown back into the responsibilities of her own life after Richard’s suicide because her wall is broken down. After being able to avoid her life for so long, Richard’s death shakes her down and she starting feeling guilty for using Richard’s illness to avoid her life. The Hours shows the consequences that three women face by avoiding their lives and problems.