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Mrs. Dalloway Review Assignment

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Nik Chan

on 6 February 2014

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Transcript of Mrs. Dalloway Review Assignment

Clarissa's interior shell reveals her improper side, the young, vibrant Clarissa that Peter loves. For Clarissa her relationship with flowers represents not only propriety, but impropriety as well because they give a sense of hopefulness and the possibility of what her life could be. Her relationship with flowers shows a bit of her improper side because when she admires the flowers at the flower shop, she's enjoying them a little too much. Not to mention, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself" (Woolf 1). What's strange about this is that it would've been more proper if Clarissa just had a servant to do this task; it's what Mrs. Dalloway would've done. With Sally, Clarissa looks up to her because she's not proper and is lively. When they kiss, instead of being embarrassed, Clarissa's actually very happy and even describes it as an "exquisite moment". A proper lady would definitely have a different response to that.
How is film Richard & book Peter in Septimus' body?
2 periods of modernism
1860-1940 (before WWI)
after WWI (1914-1919)
rejection of Victorian poetry
starker & flatter than Imagism
Lost Generation
gave up on the idea that anything was truly knowable
Facts about Modernists:
they didn't like technology because they believed it would destroy the world
modernists are focused on the past, but were obsessed with the future
they also focus on the city, NOT the countryside
focus on details to understand the big picture
After the war, the style of art and writing changed. There was more focus on the mind of the subject and a departure from the traditional art and writing style.
Women in the novel
Women are trapped by class and gender
Clarissa is one of them because she ever since she married Richard
". . . she's not even Clarissa anymore" (Woolf 10)
she's nothing of herself
women at the time could only be identified through their husbands
Even though she's high class, she bears many burdens and responsibilities being the perfect hostess & wife, to be Mrs. Dalloway.
Rezia is trapped in her marriage and by Septimus' ailment.
Elizabeth is caged in by her class, beauty, and expectations of taking after her mother, Clarissa. She's forced to put on a facade.
Ms. Kilman's stuck in the working class, having to earn her own money herself.
Eggs & Water
= life and death
Virginia & the maid
Virginia's breaking rural society rules by talking about the city while the maid's cracking eggs
Clarissa & Louis
as Clarissa's cracking eggs, Louis is shattering her hopes, etc.
when she's separating the egg white and yolk, she's trying to only take the good stuff (yolk) and leave out the unpleasant (egg white)
but you can't "live" if you don't have both good and bad things in your life (it's like how Yin & Yang balance each other)
at the hotel, she's surrounded by white walls and white sheets
it's like the room's cleansing her and of her decision to kill herself
Last Lines of the Text
The last lines of Mrs. Dalloway reveal Peter feeling "terror" and "extraordinary excitement" when he sees Clarissa. At this point, he's finally realized his feelings for her and it scares him. She's like a magnet that he's always attracted to. "It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was" (Woolf 190). What's special about these lines is that Peter repeated these exact words before in pages 74 and 169-170. It can also be assumed that Peter saying "for there she was" indicates that he's finally accepted her character as both Mrs. Dalloway and Clarissa.
In the mermaid passage (pg. 169-170), Peter is comparing Clarissa to a mermaid as she's wearing a "silver-green mermaid's dress". This is similar to the last scene in the text because Peter is drawn in by Clarissa's appearance. Mermaids are beautiful and tempt and lure men into their grasp, which is what Peter's feeling; he's being lured in by Clarissa. He thinks that Clarissa is a temptress trying to seduce him into loving her, but then ruin him like the mermaids do. It might be why he says that "he is not in love" with Clarissa.
Their Style
After WWI, modernist authors wrote frankly about sex, violence, and religion. They only wanted to portray the world as it is in their eyes; to tell the honest truth. Some call this a "stream of consciousness", a writing style that Virginia Woolf is very well-known for.
Modernists also LOVE allusions. There's many archetypes and symbolism in their works.
The plot of the book and movie itself spans over a period of one day. Although it seems so short, it also seems so long.
The characters have this obsession with the past, yet they're stuck in the present.
Time goes too fast for those killed in the war, typically soldiers. Although time goes too slow for those after the war.
Big Ben (in the book)
like a watchful overseer & a godly figure
can't be controlled by people like how flowers are controlled by them
The Music (in The Hours)
the music has a steady beat, which is like a clock
shows how monotone Laura's life is
but the tempo changes and starts reaching a climax, which not only exemplifies the suspense but also Laura's pent-up emotions
this is the same for all the other characters who are going through lots of emotions (the music plays over and over again in their stories)
"Weeping Woman with Handkerchief" by Picasso
What's proper about Clarissa is that she addresses herself as Mrs. Dalloway and it's her duty to host parties as Richard's wife. She follows the norm of the high class and acts as how a lady should act, much to Peter's annoyance. According to him, she's "timid", "unimaginative", "something arrogant", and "prudish". Peter hates her proper side because he thinks it's fake and boring, the "death of the soul". When she's at home, she's "leaving cards, being kind to people; running about with bunches of flowers, little presents . . . all that interminable traffic women of her sort keep up; but she did it genuinely, from a natural instinct" (Woolf 75). Peter also calls her the "perfect hostess", which exemplifies her propriety. Even Richard thinks that Clarissa is a little bit obsessed with hosting parties and such, though he doesn't mind it as much as Peter because it's the proper Clarissa that prompted them to marry each other. Although this proper side of Clarissa is only her exterior side, and it slowly becomes her interior.
Exterior = Mrs.Dalloway
Film Richard
commits suicide through the window
delusional & hears voices
film Richard sees "jellyfish"
knows about the truth in the world
treated like a child just because he's sick
controlled by society
victims of their illness
Book Peter
doesn't follow societal norms
keeps reliving the past
always expressing his feelings
alive yet not really living
obsessed with the past but stuck in the present
Peter's always has his knife around; he had it for 30 years
'He had his knife out. That's so like him, she thought. . . "And what's all this?" he said, tilting his pen-knife towards her green dress' (Woolf 40).
it's like he wants to rip her dress to reveal the true Clarissa

In some ways the knife is used for protection.
protect Peter from Clarissa's exterior world of parties and facades
protect him from loving Clarissa
It can also be used as a weapon.
harm/kill the hostess Mrs. Dalloway
Clarrisa keeps on repairing her dress with her scissors (pg. 38 + 40)
cutting away any part of her that's authentic and true
scissors have become a weapon between her and Peter
she's deliberately cutting the dress in front of him to warn him not to mess with her life and seek the real Clarissa
"Still, scissors rapping, girls laughing, hats being made protected him; he was assured of safety; he had a refuge. . . Oh for the scissors and the lamplight and the buckram shapes!" (Woolf 85).
Septimus is miserable after the war, but when he sees these girls he's thinking
If I marry one of these girls who're happily using scissors to make hats then I can be happy
I can cut out the bad things and cut it into a perfect life
The green color represents mother nature, youth, freshness, and envy.
Although Clarissa isn't young, fresh, or new anymore, when she puts on the dress she's putting on her costume; she's become the perfect hostess.
Clarissa's green mermaid dress
Ms. Kilman's dress is nothing fancy because it's for work.
It's not a costume and it shows who she really is.
Young Clarissa opening the windows in Bourton
to her it was a moment where she had so many opportunities in life in front of her
but in the back of her mind she's afraid of what's to come
responsibilities of a perfect wife and marriage
once the windows close --> her freedom is gone
Clarissa looking at the old woman from her window
there's a sense of loneliness in their private moments
looking at the old lady, Clarissa sees her future self
alone and although alive, she's not really living
Septimus' suicide out the window
he seems like he's leaping to his life and freedom, not his death
the window acts as a window open to happiness that lies ahead of him
#6 Windows
Mrs. Dalloway Review Assignment
Why doesn't Woolf use transitions?
Theory #1
Theory #2
Theory #3
by Nikki Chan
Sec. 03

Clarissa + Richard
Richard kisses Clarissa who's upset because he feels guilty for calling her a "perfect hostess", etc. This kiss isn't a passionate one but it's tender and seen as Richard consoling Clarissa. This alludes to what Richard said about him living for Clarissa because she wants him to and he wants to make her happy.
Laura + Kitty
The kiss between Laura and Kitty can also be seen as a comforting one. But there's another possibility that Laura did this because when she was reading Mrs. Dalloway, she must've read the kissing scene between book Clarissa and Sally. She might've been curious and wanted try it out, to experience the "exquisite moment" that book Clarissa felt because she's missing something in her life.
Virginia + Vanessa
Before the kissing Vanessa, Virginia tells her sister, "Don't you think I'm better?"
When she's asking this what Virginia's trying to say is that she's not crazy anymore, she's fine. But her abrupt kiss after that shows her struggle to convey this message and it only convinces Vanessa more that Virginia is not in her right mind. This kiss is not sexual at all but is just an example of Virginia not knowing how to control her emotions and telling her feelings.
Clarissa + Sally
After Richard's death, Laura shows up and she helps Clarissa realize that she can change her life. As Clarissa kisses Sally she's smiling and looks much happier because she's finally having a more positive outlook towards her future. With Richard gone, she's free of burdens and finally has freedom.
Clarissa + Sally
The kiss between these two woman was out of curiosity, not for consoling one another. According to the text, Clarissa's views this moment as a treasure and a jewel. It also showed both hers and Sally's improper side.
from the book
Parallel Characters
symptoms of hysteria
trapped by society
don't love their spouses that much
doesn't follow social norms
went through more hardships
keeps reliving the past & doesn't suppress it
always expressing his true feelings
takes action
knows the truth
all about the norms
tries to suppress the past
doesn't express her true feelings
Septimus = Woman?
Septimus is similar to these female characters and defies gendersterotypes
has hysteria
society tries to control him
he's dependent on others
he's lost his manliness when he was in the war
he's also the most "stereotypical" character
It reflects the modernist views of being disoriented and disillusioned after WWI.
Her writing style doesn't flow and most of the time has no structure, it's just a "stream of consciousness".
Her writing style is to show that there's no sense of time or chronology; either it's going too fast or too slow.
She didn't want to be trapped in the traditional writing style or men; she wanted to show that women's writing style are different compared to men.
Why so many narrators?
Ms. Kilman
Woolf probably wanted to be able to give the viewers a clearer picture of Clarissa.
it's an archetype for rebirth and motherhood

ex: The scene in the movie,when Laura's about to kill herself she's engulfed in water, it symbolizes her being a mother and death.

This alludes to Virginia drowning herself to set herself free, to be reborn.

Tears show characters reflecting on life & death and it cleanses and releases their emotions.

Modernist relationship to . . .
Modernists are focused on the past, yet they're obsessed with the future.
Modernists focus their attention to the city because they're attracted by the liveliness.
Battered Old Woman
is someone that Peter met along the way home who mocked him for getting flowers for Clarissa
Compared to . . .
she's also lost the love of her life
she's a little delusional and would be happier if she passed away, just so she could be happy together with her dead husband
both women are very lonely and have lovers they can't be with
Clarissa's Thoughts on Septimus' Death
Clarissa thinks that Septimus is brave for killing himself, for escaping from the grasps of men and society.
She's actually glad for him that he took action to free himself, compared to her and other women who don't do anything to change their lives. On the other hand, she's also jealous that he did.
Even though Clarissa is living, she's dead. And while Septimus is dead, he's free and living.
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