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Soon, Isa comes in wearing a dressing gown, having not been expecting guests.


She apologises; her son is not well. The scene moves to Mrs Swithin and we learn she stays at Pointz Hall in the summer, but retires to Hastings during the winter. The scene shifts again to Amy and Mabel, the nurses, walking George around the garden.

Mrs Manresa is the first to arrive. A stranger to the family, she noticed the family had a barn, and so she stopped in to eat her lunch there. She has brought a friend, William Dodge, with her.


They realise it is the day of the pageant and feel intrusive but they are persuaded to stay. Giles arrives. Miss La Trobe is introduced, she has written the play to be performed at the pageant. Mrs Swithin offers to show William around their house. Everyone gathers in the garden to begin the play. Mr and Mrs Haines arrive late.

The theme of the pageant is a History of Britain, and so the play follows just that; British history from the Canterbury pilgrims to the present day. William and Isa talk briefly, but find that they get along very easily. Giles however is thinking about the war that is currently in Europe, but that he is sure will hit England soon.

Between The Acts

He is a bit annoyed that a play is being performed in such hard times. Isa does not really understand the play.

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Eliza Clark acts Queen Elizabeth. The play is currently in the Elizabethan era.

Between the Acts Summary & Study Guide

Using a Shakespeare-esque technique, Woolf puts a play within a play within a novel. During the interval, Mrs Manresa and Giles sneak off to the greenhouse.

Once Giles and Mrs Manresa return, Isa suggests her and William go for a walk through the greenhouse. The pageant continues on into the Victorian era. The play is a short lovers comedy however it turns into Pandemonium, as devils and elves parade around the stage with mirrors, to show the audience their own reflections. They care less for the tangible, the wrought stone, than for fleeting thought or quick desire. In ten novels Mrs. Woolf lifted veil after veil to reveal what she perceived as the secret meaning of life.

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Her peculiar interest not in surfaces but in mysterious motivations and subterfuges that do not meet the eye. And no other English novelist has ever written more dazzling passages of poetry undefiled than Virginia Woolf.

Between the Acts By Virginia Woolf, Free ebook | Global Grey

Woolf could say the unsayable, and it is there in her books for those who have ears attuned to unheard melodies, even if they can never recommunicate it in any language except Mrs. At once a woman of profound erudition and intuitive intelligence, she is also the most poignantly sensitive of English novelists. Yet there was a leaven of zest and humor in her make-up, and her wit was akin to that slyly malicious kind that ran in the veins of Prince Hamlet.

Steeped in the classical tradition, she was an audacious experimentalist. She looked upon existence as a maze of paradoxes, but she was continually uplifted and renewed by the transient beauty of the world. One passage from "Between the Acts" seems to epitomize the attitude of mind, the prose style, the whole art of Virginia Woolf: "Here came the sun, an illimitable rapture of joy, embracing every flower, every leaf. Then in compassion it withdrew, covering its face, as if it forebore to look on human suffering. The pageant is played out, the guests depart, night falls.

The old folks retire and Isa and Giles are alone for the first time that day. Before they slept, they must fight; after they had fought, they would embrace. From that embrace another life might be born. But first they must fight, as the dog fox fights with the vixen, in the heart of darkness, in the fields of night. Isa let her sewing drop. The great hooded chairs had become enormous. And Giles too. And Isa too against the window. The window was all sky without color.

The house had lost its shelter. This is irritating because she has pretty much cut herself loose emotionally from her husband and is not exactly discreet about her attraction to a farmer named Haines.

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Other key characters introduced are the mannish and domineering author of the pageant, Miss La Trobe , the Bohemian Mrs. Manresa , her Jewish husband and her suspiciously foppish friend William Dodge , Albert the requisite village idiot and Eliza Clark, shopkeeper in her normal life and Queen Elizabeth during the pageant. At one point, the Old Man nearly scares his grandson into a state of apoplexy merely with the unexpected revelation of his face from behind his newspaper. Both Bartholomew and Giles are the target aggressively flirtatious behavior by the free-thinking Mrs.

For instance, the Restoration become a satire of Restoration stage comedy and navigation through the complexities of Victorian Era are personified in the form of a police officer directing traffic. Bookending these various tableau are a prologue recitation by a young child and a finale that literally forces the audience to examine their place in the timeline by having the mirrors turned toward them.