Extra Credit Blog Post 2: Stream Of Consciousness in song

In our discussion of the book Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, we talked at length about a type of narrative structure/technique known as stream of consciousness. This technique is when we are given a look into a character’s mind and hear their thoughts as they’re occurring. In Mrs. Dalloway, this takes place through a third person perspective, with an outside narrator telling readers the thoughts of the character the story is following at the time, but this is not the only way stream of consciousness can be used. In the song “Climbing Uphill” from the musical The Last Five Years, Stream of Consciousness is used in a first person perspective both to give the audience insight into the character’s thoughts, feelings, and insecurities during the song, but also as a way to inject humor into it. The song “Climbing Uphill”(Link here)  is sung by and about a character named Kathy, an aspiring actress who’s trying and currently failing to make it big, and becomes fed up with the typical audition process along the way. This brings out some major insecurities in Kathy, from feeling insecure in her relationship with a young successful author named Jamie, to feeling like her own career will never be equal to that of her boyfriend.  The use of stream of consciousness become particularly apparent roughly half way into the song, around the one minute and forty second mark, when we hear Kathy start her audition song and then immediately switch to an inner monologue of all the thoughts going through her head one after the other. This technique is particularly effective as it both eliminates what would be an otherwise repetitive verse of a song Kathy has already sung in this musical, and gives the audience a glimpse into the Kathy’s innermost thoughts, feelings, and insecurities, as well as providing a bit of humor from some of her unfiltered thoughts. In fact, to this day when I think of the stream of consciousness technique, this is the first example that comes to mind. My hope is after listening to the song and seeing the context, it will be your go-to example as well.

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