Stream of Consciousness Essay

July 31, 2022 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 2nd, 2019

Background Information

Stream of consciousness is a linguistic premise, which accentuates individualistic thoughts and ideas that traverse the subconscious mind. It brings such thoughts to the fore in a discreet and subtle manner with a view to create stylistic and narrative impressions (Steinberg 21). Stream of consciousness seeks to recognize the vital role of innate thoughts and ideas with regard to actualization of literary narratives.

It offers opportunity for playwrights to highlight internal deliberations that characterize human action as articulated in various works of literature and art (Steinberg 21). The concept dates back to 19th Century when philosopher William James referred to it in his works. In literary considerations, stream of consciousness embodies an array of stylistic avenues that espouse individual thoughts and deliberations in textual contexts (Steinberg 22).

In order to guarantee accurate representation of thoughts and ideas, playwrights use complementary stylistic devices such as monologue, dramatization, and soliloquy. Such devices involve recurrent application of third person to present accurate foray into internal thought processes (Steinberg 23).

Stream of consciousness takes a definite course that often relates to reflection of thoughts and ideas that characterize a character’s subconscious mind. In light of this reality, literary authors use of this device to strengthen general plot and theme in their work of art. In most cases, this literary device impresses on fiction and its application in supporting artistic ventures in contemporary society (Steinberg 25).

Devoid of such literary undertakings, it would be difficult for writers to offer accurate representation of ideas and thoughts that are usually invisible and incomprehensible. In most areas of interest, there is interchangeable definition in reference to stream of consciousness and internal monologue (Steinberg 27). On the contrary, there is definite distinction, both in literal and inferred application.

The relationship between stream of consciousness and internal monologue lies in their complementary roles as literary supportive mechanisms. In most cases, internal monologue creates literary transition for thought processes that ultimately manifest through stream of consciousness (Steinberg 32).

Use of Stream of Consciousness in Eliot’s Work

T.S Eliot was a dedicated, creative, and inspirational literary icon whose work continues to influence human thoughts and actions in contemporary social contexts. He is renowned for his accuracy and precision with regard to general presentation of ideas that are complex to decipher under normal circumstances (Abrams 43).

His prowess in literary undertakings gave him an opportunity to focus on pertinent thematic areas of engagement in society. Eliot’s literary career was long and decorated in many ways (Abrams 43). He garnered numerous awards in recognition of his efforts towards promoting literature.

For purposes of holistic coverage and presentation, this research paper shall focus on one of his famed works titled The Waste Land, a poem that offers ideas and thoughts regarding human action in society (Abrams 43). Despite its complex orientation, this literary gem creates inherent need for action towards exploring core ideas espoused in its main theme.

Evidently, it is impossible to have conclusive analysis of this work of art because it covers numerous areas of literary interest. Eliot uses an array of stylistic devices that play an important role in delivery of messages and thoughts (Abrams 46). Among these devices, stream of consciousness stands out as a recurrent feature in his literary works.

The playwright derives a spiritual angle with regard to human search for knowledge and understanding on issues that characterize existence in social contexts. He further uses stream of consciousness as a device to reconnect medieval and modernistic views on the role of innate thoughts in development of works of literature (Abrams 46).

As earlier mentioned, inner thoughts and ideas, reflect through characterization and dramatization. In absence of these aspects, it would be difficult for writers to relay and propagate thematic areas of interest in literature. Stream of consciousness is a core feature in works of Eliot, especially those that materialized during his early days as a dramatist, author, and poet (Abrams 48).

His work portends recurrent application of narrative and stylistic devices that often add spice to delivery of pertinent ideas. Its ambience promotes realization of inner qualities that augment overall orientation to central and thematic aspects of literary presentation (Abrams 49).

As earlier mentioned, stream of consciousness is an integral component in literary undertakings. It presents valid opportunities for interrogation and holistic introspection with regard to how audiences view artwork in various contexts. Eliot applies this stylistic device in a seasoned manner that gives credence to his literary foray (Abrams 53).

He exudes confidence and accuracy in defining thresholds that often bridge the gap between inner thoughts and inherent perceptions in social contexts. His understanding and application of style connects reality with fiction, thereby enhancing delivery of thoughts and ideas. Eliot’s literary and artistic demeanour speaks for itself in terms of style, diction, and tone.

He offers a rare chance for readers to savour artistic satisfaction and glory that emanates from superior and well-organized works of art. The textual relevance of his literature manifests through superior fusion of historical and religious themes. His direct reference to inner thoughts is commendable and at par with parametrical thresholds of literary presentation (Abrams 58).

Direct reference to inner thoughts and ideas also creates a serene environment for people to identify and decipher major themes in his literature. Evidently, Eliot is a master of literary devices that often spice and arouse desire for more among his audience (Abrams 63).

Use of Stream of Consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Work

Virginia Woolf’s literary work continues to influence thought and opinion in contemporary society. Her approach to pertinent issues is commendable and monumental because she stimulates ideas through recurrent application of stylistic devices that are germane to delivery and actualization of literary thoughts (Abrams 76).

Devoid of such style and application, it would be difficult for the audience to understand her approach to complexities that characterize human existence in social contexts. For instance, use of stream of consciousness is prominent in her works of literature. Mrs Dalloway is an example of Woolf’s literary gems that accentuate the relevance and application of this stylistic premise (Abrams 76).

She brilliantly espouses inner thoughts and ideas in a manner that portends unprecedented foray into uncharted literary spheres. She understands how such style and orientation endears her to audiences that often have difficulty relating to complex aspects of literature. The interplay between tone and style is vital in development of literary plot and other facets that validate complex thought processes (Abrams 77).

It also enhances connection between ideas and efforts that validate overall meaning in works of literature. Woolf understands how stream of consciousness ignites interest and participation among the audience with regard to ascription of meaning and synchronization of ideas.

Woolf uses stream of consciousness as a bridge between fiction and realities that arise from human action and reaction to various issues in social contexts (Abrams 82). Her foray into literary style is commendable because it gives meaning to narratives that would otherwise hold little or none of it. Her literary style underscores relevance of art in demystifying complex issues and situations that manifest in society (Abrams 85).

It is important to note that stream of consciousness is a major contributor to excellent delivery of thoughts and ideas in literature. Its relevance in modern realms of literature continues to spur heated discourse among playwrights, critics, and enthusiasts of literary work (Abrams 86).

Stream of Consciousness and its Reflection in Early Twentieth Century

Although most observers attribute prevalent use of stream of consciousness to initial years of the 20th Century, there is evidence with regard to its existence prior to this period. Several works of art conceived before this period bear affirmation to this assertion (Cohn 12). For instance, Laurence Stern applied stream of consciousness in Tristram Shandy, which materialized in the 18th Century.

Another example is The Tell-Tale-Heart, an anthology authored by Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century. Despite prior application of this stylistic premise, it is important to note that most of its development and application occurred in the 20th Century (Cohn 12). Marcel Proust is among authors acclaimed for playing a major role in development and propagation of this stylistic premise in the 20th Century.

However, critics argue that most developers of this style preoccupied with superficial application that did not delve into its subject matter (Cohn 16). Their main concern was communication and passage of ideas without much interest on its development and preservation. They sought to demystify complex thought processes that were vital with regard to human existence in society.

Works Cited

Abrams, Meyer, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. Print.

Cohn, Dorrit. Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. Print.

Steinberg, Erwin. The Stream of Consciousness Technique in the Modern Novel. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2001. Print.

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