Comparative paper on Virginia Woolf's "The Years" and Rainer Rilke's "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge"

Essay by esato19College, UndergraduateA+, December 2002

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Two authors may write about a familiar topic but end up with two very different angles to their issues. Virginia Woolf in her novel The Years, and Rainer Maria Rilke in an excerpt from his work of fiction, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, both convey traumatic childhood encounters with the adult world in two very different ways. It is very interesting to see just how much one subject matter can be illustrated from such diverse angles. The reader is swayed in two very different emotional commands by the works of these two specific writers. Where on one hand Rilke's childhood memory is one sudden shock, an emotional knockdown of childhood frailty; on the other hand Through the use of her language, Woolf slowly builds up to a tale created inside the mind of a child which helps her to cope with the fears of the outside world.

In Woolf's scenario, Rose sets out on an adventure at night to Lamley's Shop to get a box of ducks.

She is not permitted to go out of the house after dark by herself, but her determination to carry out her mission is too strong for anything to stop her. The entire scene is set within a single story she formulates in her head to keep her mind off the frightening surroundings of the town after dark. Her mission is to ride through enemy territory in order to deliver a secret message to the General. She spots a man who leers at her and reaches out towards her direction - the enemy is attacking. Rose manages to bolt past the man but her heart is still throbbing rapidly from the recent "near-death" experience. Once she accomplishes her task, she walks back out of the store only to find that her scenario...