British Soc & Mod Novels: Blog Post 3 (Flush)

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Flush – Virginia Woolf (1933) – PPT Presentation on WWII – PPT on Flush

Blog posts and presentations due: Wednesday, November 6

  • Group 5: How Flush is happier with Miss Barrett than with Miss Mitford.
  • Group 6: Why did Woolf tell a story from a dog’s point of view?

Write a post here of about 200 words discussing one of these suggested questions; or make your post a reply to someone else; or write about something else that interests you. For the group project, choose one story per group. Your project must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. Speak to me or e-mail me to have your topic approved.

  1. Do you think Flush has a better life as a house dog with Miss Barrett? Wouldn’t he have been happier as an outdoor dog with Miss Mitford? It seems strange that in a novel about liberty, Flush isn’t free– or is he, especially in Italy?
  2. Do you think Miss Barrett is actually sick, or just crushed by her oppressive father?
  3. Woolf feels that the ‘democracy’ of dogs is better than the class distinctions of England. Is this true? Are dogs really ‘democratic’?
  4. Woolf doesn’t seem to like her country; she compares the stagnant, authoritarian England vs. warm freedom in Italy. Or is it just because her father is there? Discuss.
  5. What does the episode of Flush being stolen by thieves tell us about Miss Barrett, or Mr. Browning, or others?
  6. Why tell a story from a dog’s point of view? Why not just write a novel about Elizabeth Barrett Browning?
  7. The end of Flush’s life is told very quickly. Do you think there is a reason why?
  8. Critics have accused Woolf of being a snob; and in Flush the few working-class people we meet are servants or thieves. Is this true?
  9. Flush isn’t always a good dog; he sulks and gets jealous when Miss Barrett begins to date, or when her baby is born. Why does Woolf tell us this?
  10. What other things do you notice that are interesting in the novella?

15 thoughts on “British Soc & Mod Novels: Blog Post 3 (Flush)

  1. Suhyun Yun

    7. The end of Flush’s life is told very quickly. Do you think there is a reason why?

    Virginia Woolf wrote an imaginary biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I was a little surprised with the fact that Woolf actually never met her in person in her life. As often readers confused themselves with the truth and the imagination, I was going to believe the entire story as if it was the real story of Barrett’s life despite the fact that this novel was even suggested us to see the world in a dog’s point of view!

    Let’s talk about the ending part of this novel. It is my favorite part of all. Flush was growing old, he had same good values like an old English gentleman has. He was mature, experienced and relaxed. Knowing his death, he rushed back to his owner, Mrs. Browning and died in her arm. I often saw old people kept talking about their twenties in their eighties. Their memories seemed to stop adding more memories after and living in the past. Nevertheless time flies to them. People said to me that they did nothing much but weeks, months and years was passing within a blink of eye.

    In conclusion, I don’t think this novel ends abruptly. It is rather similar to many ordinary humans’ life when they get older, nothing much happening and death comes abruptly with matters when we cannot inhale one final breath.

    1. Da Young Lee

      2. Do you think Miss Barrett is actually sick, or just crushed by her oppressive father?

      I think she may have been sick for real but it seems the pressure she got from her oppressive father had more affected her. I got this logic from the scene Barrett recovering easily as she adjust to Italy life. She seems to overcome the sickness as soon as she feels free. We can notice it from Flush’s narration too. That’s why I think her sickness was mainly due to the emotional pressure than physical sickness. She seems to be free, happy, and healthy in Italy, living the way she wants with someone she loves and Flush. Also, after coming back to London due to her father’s death, there’s no mention of Barrett being sick again. I believe it’s because the cause of her emotional pressure no more exists. I also have an experience of being physically sick because of emotional stress, so I could easily feel sympathetic with her.
      I also think that she got better when Flush started to live with her. I strongly believe the power, animals can give to humans. Sometimes they give bigger comfort that the man. So to summarize, as Flush started to live with her and as she starts to live in Italy, she felt so free and relaxing. Therefore she could overcome the sickness without getting any particular treatment.

  2. Yoo Jieun

    Do you think Flush has a better life as a house dog with Miss Barrett? Wouldn’t he have been happier as an outdoor dog with Miss Mitford? It seems strange that in a novel about liberty, Flush isn’t free– or is he, especially in Italy?

    A: Dogs and people are not the same, so what dogs consider as a satisfying lifestyle may differ from what humans would want. For example, Flush likes to go out and play while sniffing all sorts of things. At the end of the book the only thing he thinks about from his trip to his home town is that he wants to go back to his current home where they have a better weather. In some point Flush would have had more saticfaction living with Miss Mitford. However, the common thing with dogs and people along with every other living creatuer is that a warm house and fresh food is better thatn being poor.

    If Flush had a choice, he would have given up some part of being a free dog because as a part of his instinct he would prioritize the stabability of his basic needs which is nice food and a safe shleter.

  3. JI Hyun Lee

    The reason that the writer wrote the dog’s point of view in this story, not the writer is the writer wanted to show the world that shown by the dog I guess. The writer wanted to show the the dog’s hierarchy levels and the communion between the dog and the owner. And there is the scientific evidence that the owner and the dog getting similar each other so I think the writer thought she didn’t need to show with the human’s viewpoint. There are many other books showing with the human’s viewpoint. So she wanted to wrote a story with a new one. And the dog is more sensitive with surroundings than human so they feel different with human so the readers could know more definite story than other books I think. They would known more emotions and definite gestures between dogs and the owners . And the story would be more interesting and curious to readers. We would also know their communion and the things we didn’t know before reading the story. Or I guess the reader took care her dog and love so much so she wanted to write a book for her dog and cherish her story about her dog.

  4. Jongwoo Kim

    Question 6.

    The narrator conveys its story from the perspectives of both Elizabeth and Flush because it allows readers to see some of the conventional values and norms in different point of view.

    For example, readers are able to learn the importance of mutuality and inter-relatedness from the two protagonists. Although they don’t speak the same language, and thus occasionally produce conflicts, they put much effiort into understanding and appreciating the other’s presence. Therefore by following the storyline, we learn that there exist the sense of compassion and friendship even among the seemingly incompatiable parties. Such defamiliarization, put into beautiful lines by Woolf, catches readers off-guard by making them re-examine their beliefs and convictions, and Woolf deliberately uses it to convey her ideas and criticisms about the 20th century English society.

  5. Alina Kim

    Q. What does the episode of Flush being stolen by thieves tell us about Miss Barrett, or Mr. Browning, or others?

    A. I think that this event greatly changes Miss Barrett. Through this episode the narrator shows how Miss Barrett attitude and behavior changes. From the beginning of the book, we see that Miss Barrett lacks confident to share with her opinion and she doesn’t stand against the thing she does not like. However, when thieves stole Flush, she, for the first time, make a decision by herself. She seems confident in her action. Also, this scene shows how Miss Barrett is a loyal owner. Even though the others doesn’t want to save Flush, she as owner, saves him. After that, I think she became more confident. She decided to elope to Italy with Mr. Browning. In Mr. Browning case, he seems not to see and feel an attachment between Flush and Miss Barrett. For him, Flush is just a dog.

  6. Yareli Martinez

    7. The end of Flush’s life is told very quickly. Do you think there is a reason why?

    From my pint of view, the ending of the book as the life of lush is quick to preserve the emotion of both and the love flush and Miss Barret had. I feel like it was the perfect ending for the book because it is something that happens in real life all the time neither human beings and animals, by the end of their lives they think of what they have lived. I think Flush experienced a dream of what he had lived to rememorize everything in its life to go and leave.

    The end of the story was one of my favourites parts, I have had the experience that my pet has died next to me and they indeed try to find the person they love the most during their lives to find comfort.

    Just to conclude, I think Virginia Woolf did it fast to transmit the feel of death, it comes quickly and there is nothing to do about it. Flush had a great life, he lived as a good dog with someone that loved him and the end transmits the thinking he got at the beginning of the book when he met Miss Barret, always to stay with her.

  7. Song Yoo Hyeong

    Q: The end of Flush’s life is told very quickly. Do you think there is a reason why?

    A: The title of this novella is Flush: A Biography. This deals with the dog Flush and his whole life. And we notice that Virginia Woolf wrote this story through the dog’s point of view. I think that this is one of the reasons why the end of Flush’s life is told very quickly, for Woolf wanted to let the readers know once again that this novella is about Flush, not human beings. This biography about Flush is over when he is dead. That is all. Nothing left to say. If it were about Miss Barrett or Mr. Browning, it would go further.

    The other reason could be found from the author herself. Virginia Woolf, who takes a big part in Modernist literature, surely thought a lot against the traditional conceptions, especially against religion. Most Europeans had believed in Christianity, and the death of those who are loyal to their masters had been known as a meaningful thing to them. I think Woolf, who was an atheist and does not follow this belief, shows the death of the loyal pet dog to say “This is how the life goes on. Nothing is left after the death.”

  8. Kyungho Lee

    8.Critics have accused Woolf of being a snob; and in Flush the few working-class people we meet are servants or thieves. Is this true?

    Yes, it is true. Lower class in this novel aren’t exactly a model citizen. However, calling her a snob doesn’t really matter to me. For the sake of argument, let’s just say Woolf spices up the characters and include more diverse and romanticized representation of the lower classes. Considering her affluent background, her pretending to know the struggle of lower classes would be just as bad if not the worse thing to do as that would be misleading too or even condescending. On the contrary, having a ‘snobbish’ approach and writing the novel in the perspective of aristocrat would have been more accurate as the authors can write the best about what they have experienced themselves. Since she had experienced such life first handed, it would be most sensible thing to do to write it like that. I can’t exactly blame her for portraying the part of reality as is.

    Therefore, it is undeniable that Woolf is a snob. However, I don’t think it is a very fair thing to say, and hold that much meaning.

  9. Choi Yubin

    2.Do you think Miss Barrett is actually sick, or just crushed by her oppressive father?

    I read a book when I was a middle school student It said that when Elizabeth Browning was young, she fell on the ground from a horse and had a heart disease. Since Elizabeth had been ill since childhood, everyone around her expected that she could not live long, but after her marriage her health gets better and she gave birth to a son. I know that her father, Mr. Barret, opposed Elizabeth’s marriage, but I’m not sure how much he oppressed her. In Flush, there is a scene where Mr. Bareet checks every time Elizabeth, her daughter, has finished eating. Her father’s behavior appears to be oppressive, but I think he did like that because he worried about her health. He even prays for his daughter in the book. I’m not sure why Mr. Barret opposed Elizabeth and Robert’s marriage, but I think it was probably because of her health. However, I do not think that good intentions can justify oppressive behavior. She has been ill since childhood, and sick people are sensitive to even small things. For a sick Elizabeth, her father’s oppressive actions may have been a huge blow to her health, even if they were very small.

  10. Zhu Yuyin

    I‘d like to write something about my pet.

    Actually, when finishing reading this book, I could’t help thinking of my favorite pet—a turtle. I raised it just for one year, then it died. Its sudden death made me feel down for a long time. For the reaon that I am a only child, animals like goldfish, duckling and silkworm were all my good companies during my childhood, although they died pretty soon without exception, which made me very annoyed. Perhaps I fed them incorrectly.

    As the description of Woolf goes, Flush knows the love that people don’t know: pure love, simple love, thorough love, the love beyond burdens as well as the love regardless of shame or remorse. For me, a typical human being, I have to admit these concepts are difficult to understand. Not mention to put them into practice. But for the angel of an animal, it uses its whole life showing us what those are by which I was moved.

    When my turtle was still alive, I thought it would accompany me for a long time.

    We owned numerous unforgetable moments. Though its intelligence is not as high as a dog, it gave reaction to every movement of me. On top of that, It ran much faster than I imagined when we played together and behaved in awkward way sometimes as if wanted to amuse me… Thanks to my turtle, I didn’t feel alone.

    At present, I don’t plan to raise another pet until I have a good command of how to take responsibilty for it.

  11. Hye Jin Park

    9. Flush isn’t always a good dog; he sulks and gets jealous when Miss Barrett begins to date, or when her baby is born. Why does Woolf tell us this?

    In this nouvella, we are able to see the life of Miss Barrett in the point of dog, Flush’s view. I think the reason why Woolf told us that Flush is not always a good dog is related to the reason she wrote this in dog’s point of view. During our lecture, professor told us that maybe Woolf wrote it in dog’s point of view because she was one of the big feminists that time and she just hated jerk males. Flush was a male (even though he was a dog) who is not a jerk. I believe in this perspective, Woolf tried to intend that even the male who is not a jerk, is not perfect. Yes, Flush is cute and loyal to Miss Barrett. However, by showing the readers that Flush is not a perfect dog, Woolf might imply that there is no perfect male.
    I agree that this might be a too much interpretation, but I believe even too much ones can still be an interpretation. I’m also aware that the purpose of feminism is not bringing down the whole male species. That’s why I used the word ‘implied’. She might not intend, but she could imply it unconsciously.

  12. Yoon Ji Hyun

    I think that Miss Barrett was suffering psychological pain from authoritative father rather than the real physical pain. First of all, Miss. Barrett was always described as a weak person while living in England. I think he had to maintain his dignity because Mr. Barrett was a very wealthy person. Therefore, perhaps, he made her keep dignity too for a long time. From this point of view, I predict that Mr. Barrett became a oppressive person and Miss. Barrett got physical and mental pain, spending a hard time. Second, Miss. Barrett shows very lively figure different with life in England. Miss Barrett start to disobey when she lost Flush. She knew its danger. However, she went to a slum area and met threatening people to find Flush. Through these events, she came to recognize freedom and left England to find the bigger freedom. In Italy, she find real happiness in complete freedom and she got healthy of the body and mind. She didn’t any special treatment, but she regain her lost healty when she was removed from mental stress.

  13. Yoon Ji Hyun

    [2.Do you think Miss Barrett is actually sick, or just crushed by her oppressive father?]
    I think that Miss Barrett was suffering psychological pain from authoritative father rather than the real physical pain. First of all, Miss. Barrett was always described as a weak person while living in England. I think he had to maintain his dignity because Mr. Barrett was a very wealthy person. Therefore, perhaps, he made her keep dignity for a long time. From this point of view, I predict that Mr. Barrett became a oppressive person and Miss Barrett got physical and mental pain, spending a hard time. Second, Miss Barrett shows very energetic life when she stay in Italy different with life in England. Miss Barrett start to disobey her father’s opinion when she lost Flush. Everyone tried to stop her determind and she knew how it is danger too. However, she went to a slum area and met dangerous people for Flush. Through these events, she came to aware that she can do something by herself even though she was weak. And she left England to find the bigger freedom. In Italy, she felt real happiness in complete freedom, and she gained healthy of the body and mind. She didn’t receive any medical treatments, but she regained her lost healthy when she was removed from mental stress. Therefore, I could see that her father was the reason why Miss Barrett was sick through Miss Barrett, who regained happiness and health in a world without a father.
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    I’m sorry:(
    The post above is my mistake!
    This is real post.

  14. Kang Byung Hyun

    Do you think Flush has a better life as a house dog with Miss Barrett? Wouldn’t he have been happier as an outdoor dog with Miss Mitford? It seems strange that in a novel about liberty, Flush isn’t free– or is he, especially in Italy?

    I think Flush had his life of his own. In other words, I think both owners have given Flush a good life despite the flaws. First, Miss Mitford has given Flush liberty a wide field to run as much as he wants. This is a point that Miss Barrett could not provide. As we all know Flush has renounced many senses such as a sense to smell or sniff or run. However, Flush have been also proud of being a pure Spaniel dog. By looking into the mirror or by just seeing mixed dogs in Italy made him feel proud of himself. If flush have lived with Miss Mitford there is low chance that he could have felt this way.
    Living in England whether living with Miss Mitford or Miss Barrett would not have guaranteed Flush freedom or liberty since they are English and they know how a pure Spaniel is valuable of. So I do think Flush was especially free in Italy and I do think dogs need to live a life just like Flush in Italny

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