Night & Day
By Virginia Woolf
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Virginia Woolf's Night and Day is populated by four major characters: Katharine Hilbery, Mary Datchet, Ralph Denham, and William Rodney. Through delineating their romantic adventures, the novel explores various issues related to love, marriage, self-discovery, self-assertion and happiness. Yet, like most of Woolf's works, it also examines feminist questions such as women's suffrage and the usefulness of marriage and work for women. Katherine is first engaged to William, an unsuccessful writer and a clumsy suitor. Being eventually jilted by her, he becomes interested in her cousin Cassandra who accepts his proposal. Meanwhile, Katherine agrees to marry Ralph Denham who has been haunting her since he first knew her. The fourth main character of the story, Mary, is a very idealistic young woman who works for an organization that defends women's right to vote. She plays the role of a confidante mainly for Ralph and Katherine who often come to tell her about their problems and misunderstandings. Although she falls in love with Ralph early in the novel, she rejects his proposal when she learns that he is more interested in Katherine. Mary is the only principal character who remains single till the end of the story.