Essay Sample on The Mark on the Wall

Published: 2023-03-05
Essay Sample on The Mark on the Wall
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Fiction World War 1 Symbolism
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1094 words
10 min read

The Mark on the Wall is a short fiction story written by Virginia Woolf's and published in 1917. It was written during the era of the First World War and its aftermath (Narey 15). From this story, the author gained a lot of recognition as a great novelist in the twentieth century's. Although this piece was the narrator's way of questioning a mark on the Wall in his house, it has a greater meaning of showing the essential things in life. The writer tries to show that what we see in our daily lives is not as exciting as the things we have in our imagination. Virginia Woolf shows us that focusing on one object could trigger a lot of mental activity in many different dimensions. She also suggests that unless we look at something closely, what we see might not be precisely real (Narey 15). In this story, we can see that the Mark on the Wall, which the narrator thought was a nail or rose leaf ended up being a mare snail.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

The Mark on the Wall Plot

The narrator recognizes a dark mark on the Wall, and his imagination wanders to the possibility that it could be a nail. All over sudden, he starts to think that a nail head could not leave behind such a big mark. The spot was round and big, and it looked like it had been there for a while. With such insight, the narrator starts to think that the previous homeowners might have left it there as they were very mysterious people in terms of house decoration. They used old art for unattractive rooms; hence, this Mark could have been used to hang such decorations.

As the narrator sat down smoking his cigarette, he discovered that it was the winter season as they had lightened a fire in the house. Therefore, he started to think that the black Mark might have been a leftover rose-leaf which had grown during the summer period. His imagination went deeper as he started thinking about what inspired Shakespeare into his writings and how the afterlife would look. He went on to wish that if it were possible to trigger desired thoughts, he would have wanted for those that were self-reflective on positive achievements (Cyr 8).These reflections lead to a stream of everyday life consciousness about the reality of things. It had not dawned on him how vital things like Sunday walks and luncheons are to a satisfying lifestyle.

He felt that thinking about such things was illegitimate freedom that allowed individuals to have an exciting life based on things that were not realistic like a tablecloth. The narrator ends up realizing that with a close inspection what he thought was a mark on the Wall turned out to be an ordinary snail. After all, the thing that had given him a lot of thoughts was nothing exciting unless for snail lovers (Carpenter 9). He, therefore, concluded that external objects do not provide individuals with lives meaning. Instead, such excitement can only be sought from daydreams and meditations based on insignificant things like a mark on the Wall.

Tools in the Mark on the Wall


The Mark on the Wall is a phrase used by this narrator to represent an unknown object. When he saw it at first, it was not easy to determine what it described. It was until later that he realized it was just a snail. According to him, he did not see the importance of having it on the Wall as he says "I don't see why we should have a snail in the wall" (Cyr 7). The dark mark is also used to represent a broader existence based on an individual's mental capacity. It is only a point of focus that the narrator used to create a much expansive imagination of lives realism.


The Mark on the Wall is a mysterious symbol that even familiar objects can turn to be complicated and unknown to people. It was an insignificant snail, but without close inspection, the narrator was unable to figure it out. It also symbolizes that uncertainty of common knowledge (Carpenter 7). What individuals deal with in real life could be of diverse meaning depending on the individual's point of view. Just like the narrator, an individual can use specific points to reflect on broader real-life imaginations.

Nature and Civilization

Virginia Woolf uses natural objects like a snail to display civilization affairs like the realism of daily life. According to the story, the natural world is the trigger of personal anxieties that cause societal development. People think that civilization is an act of their dominion in the world, but Woolf associates it to isolation and disorientation from society. There is a disconnection between nature and reality since they exist in cold randomness. The narrator portrays a picture that any natural object like rose-leafs and snails should stay outside people's homes (Ki 4). In his perspective, there should be little association between nature and civilization.


From this fiction story, one can understand that not everything we see is real. Some things could be just a representation of broader imaginations. Physical objects might not hold a lot of significant meaning, but just like the snail, they can be used for reflection on real-life situations. Nature can be instrumental in helping individuals meditate on essential aspects of existence that make life exciting. The dark mark on the wall might not have been crucial to the narrator, but it undoubtedly helped open his reasoning to more significant assumptions that were interesting. Without it, the narrator could not have such a mentally engaging session.

Work Cited

Narey, Wayne. "Virginia Woolf's `The Mark on the Wall': An Einsteinian." Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 29, no. 1, Winter 1992, p. 35. EBSCOhost, November 28, 2019.

Cyr, Marc D. "A Conflict of Closure in Virginia Woolf's `The Mark on the Wall.'." Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 33, no. 2, Spring 1996, p. 197. EBSCOhost, Accessed November 28, 2019.

Carpenter, David A. "The Mark on the Wall." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition, Jan. 2004, pp. 1-3. EBSCOhost, Accessed November 28, 2019.

Ki, Magdalen Wing-chi. "Structure and Anti-Structure: Virginia Woolf's Feminist Politics and 'The Mark on the Wall.'" English Studies, vol. 91, no. 4, June 2010, pp. 425-442. EBSCOhost, Accessed November 28, 2019.

Cite this page

Essay Sample on The Mark on the Wall. (2023, Mar 05). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism