Alexandra Hill '23, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, is a triple major in English, French, and mathematics, with a minor in statistics. Her passion for mental health is a keystone for much of her academia; she presented her research on mental health accessibility in writing centers at a national conference in 2021, and her three senior honors projects each respectively analyze mental health in literature in unique ways.
I analyzed the theme of psychological repression in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Zadie Smith’s NW, exploring how, despite the apparent progress in British society during the nearly 90 years between their publications, the same problem still surfaces. Rather than utilizing the more traditional lens of psychoanalysis, which views the literature via a more character study approach looking an individual psychology, I utilized affect theory, which looks at pervasive mood states of society as a whole. I look at how social pressures and judgment lead to the characters’ reactions of psychological repression and non-acknowledgement of the mental health issues they are facing – discussing that this repression is a manifestation of the true oppressions and societal expectations the person (or person’s community) faces. The conclusion is not for the characters to throw off the ‘inauthentic identity.' Rather, the authors advocate becoming conscious of repressive mechanisms and beginning to merge social with inner self.