Stream of Consciousness is A Writing Style Mostly Adopted in Novels When Endless Stream of Ideas of a Character Describe the Story in a Reflexive Manner.
“A Mill on the Floss” is title of a Novel by George Eliot. I read this novel when I was studying for my Masters in English Literature. I still recollect how the Lady Novelist capitalized on the description of the ideas of a character for its portrayal.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS AS A NARRATIVE MODE
Following is an extract from the Novel titled “Ulysses” by James Joyce’s to demonstrate Stream of Consciousness Style of Narrative:
“a quarter after what an unearthly hour I suppose they’re just getting up in Japan now combing out their pigtails for the day well soon have the nuns ringing the angelus they’ve nobody coming in to spoil their sleep except an odd priest or two for his night office or the alarmlock next door at cockshout clattering the brain out of itself let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 what kind of flowers are those they invented like the stars the wallpaper in Lombard street was much nicer the apron he gave me was like that something only I only wore it twice better lower this lamp and try again so that I can get up early”
FURTHER EXAMPLES OF STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN LITERATURE
The Stream of Consciousness Style of writing is marked by the sudden rise of thoughts and lack of punctuations. The use of this narration mode is generally associated with the modern novelist and short story writers of the 20th Century. Let us analyze a few examples of the Narrative technique in literature:
James Joyce successfully employs the Narrative mode in his novel “Ulysses” which describes the day in life of a middle-aged Jew, Mr. Leopold Broom, living in Dublin, Ireland. Read the following excerpt:
“He is young Leopold, as in a retrospective arrangement, a mirror within a mirror (hey, presto!), he beholdeth himself. That young figure of then is seen, precious manly, walking on a nipping morning from the old house in Clambrassil to the high school, his book satchel on him bandolier wise, and in it a goodly hunk of wheaten loaf, a mother’s thought.”
These lines reveal the thoughts of Bloom. He thinks of the younger Bloom. The self-reflection is achieved by the flow of thoughts that takes him back to his past.
Another 20th Century writer that followed James Joyce’s narrative method was Virginia Woolf. Let us read an excerpt from her novel “ Mrs. Dalloway”:
“What a lark! What a plunge! For so it always seemed to me when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which I can hear now, I burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as I then was) solemn, feeling as I did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen …”
By voicing their internal feelings, the writer gives freedom to the characters to travel back and forth in time. Mrs. Dalloway went out to buy flower for herself and on the way her thoughts moves in past and present giving us an insight into the complex nature of her character.
We notice the use of this technique in David Lodge’s novel “The British Museum Is Falling Down”. It is comic novel that imitates the stream of consciousness narrative techniques of the writers like Henry James, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the novel:
“It partook, he thought, shifting his weight in the saddle, of metempsychosis, the way his humble life fell into moulds prepared by literature. Or was it, he wondered, picking his nose, the result of closely studying the sentence structure of the English novelists? One had resigned oneself to having no private language any more, but one had clung wistfully to the illusion of a personal property of events. A find and fruitless illusion, it seemed, for here, inevitably came the limousine, with its Very Important Personage, or Personages, dimly visible in the interior. The policeman saluted, and the crowd pressed forward, murmuring ‘Philip’, ‘Tony’, ‘Margaret’, ‘Prince Andrew’.”
We see the imitation of the typical structure of the stream-of-conscious narrative technique of Virginia Woolf. We notice the integration of the outer and inner realities in the passage that is so typical of Virginia Woolf, especially the INDUCTION of the reporting clauses “he thought” and “he wondered” in the middle of the reported clauses.