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Woolf, Virginia. "The Mark on the Wall".


The speaker establishes the theme of the mark on the wall and begins recalling the day and the circumstances of the day when she saw it. The mark interrupts her dwelling on an "old fancy" of medieval images and she happily grasps the "new object"; as human mind in general enjoys being presented a new challenge.

Her thoughts turn to the meditation on how little control human being have in their lives, how man is born helpless, and how his situation does not improve even with age. Then she self-consciously tries to direct her thoughts upon herself, she considers this kind of thoughts the most pleasant one; moves to the statement that exactly this will be the theme of "the novelists in future". She re-considers and re-defines reality, claiming the supposed reality is only "phantoms", and seems to hope also the current war will turn into one. She questions the validity of whatever knowledge, and so refuses to stand up and see what the mark on the wall is: "a nail, a rose-leaf, a crack in the wood?"

She states to be content to interrupt her unpleasant thoughts by thinking about the mark on the wall. She succumbs into a series of further musings so that at the end she cannot recall what she was originally thinking about. When she traces back in her memory, she is interrupted by someone (her husband?) informing her he leaves to buy a newspaper, though there is no sense in it: "Curse this war; God damn this war!…" And he adds why there is a snail on the wall. She recall her original theme and realises the mark on the wall was a snail.


  • Author

    Woolf, Virginia. (1882 - 1941).
  • Full Title

    "The Mark on the Wall".
  • First Published

    In: Monday or Tuesday. London: Hogarth Press, 1921.
  • Form

    Short Story.

Works Cited

Woolf, Virginia. "The Mark on the Wall". (1921). The Mark on the Wall and Other Short Fiction. Oxford: Oxford Univesity Press, 2001.


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