Squaring the self
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This paper explores Woolf’s obsessive pursuit of character by examining Woolf’s fixation on frames in the novels she wrote between 1925 and 1928. These novels, Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), present characters trapped in unconventional frames, such as window panes, paintings, and door frames. The continual use of frames in these novels suggests that Woolf struggled with the potential impossibility of depicting a self beyond a framed image of that self. Woolf’s use of frames suggests instead of reading Woolf as the writer of interior spaces, she is actually a writer of exterior surface, perpetually trying, but failing to escape the material and artificial to capture the thing itself. This reading places Woolf in a different frame and suggests she was a writer who perpetually tried to write herself out of her own frame through her experimentations with character, obsessive journaling, and attempts at biography.