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Mrs.Dalloway

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Stefanie Jo

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Mrs.Dalloway

An Introduction to
Mrs.Dalloway

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Preface
Characters
The Story
Themes
Mrs.Dalloway

-Virginia Woolf
Clarissa Dalloway
The fifty-one-year old protagonist of the novel
She spends the day organizing a party that will be held that night while also reminiscing about the past.
(frequently reflects upon her past)
Richard's wife and Elizabeth's mother
Self-conscious about her role in London high society
Richard Dalloway
Disconnected and haughty husband of Clarissa
Immersed in his work in government
Peter Walsh
An old friend of Clarissa
Had proposed to Clarissa but was rejected
Now has returned from India and is one of the party's guest
Sally Seton
A love interest of Clarissa
Had a strained relationship with her family and spent much time with Clarissa's family in her youth
Had married to Lord Rosseter and has five boys
Elizabeth Dalloway
Clarissa and Richard's 17-year-old daughter
Would rather spend time in the country with her father than at her mother's party
Miss Kilman
Elizabeth's history teacher
Dislikes Clarissa intensely but loves to spend time with Elizabeth
Septimus Warren Smith
A World War I veteran
Suffers from Post traumatic stress disorder
Keeps having hallucinations, seeing his comrade at the war--Evans
Educated and decorated in the war, he is detached from the society
He is married to Lucrezia, from whom he has grown distant
Lucrezia "Rezia" Smith
Septimus's Italian wife
Burdened by Septimus's mental illness and believes she is judged because of it
Homesick for her family and country, which she left to marry Septimus after the Armistice.
Sir William Bradshaw
A famous phychiatrist recommended by Dr.Holmes to Septimus and Rezia.
Claims that Septimus has had a complete nervous breakdown and suggest rest cure for him
Conclusion of the Main Characters
Virtually, all the characters in the novel have
failed
to live up to their early dreams and ambitions.
Virginia Woolf's farewell to the dreams of youth,and the beginning of her sense of artistic maturity.
A consciously modern novel
"I have made up my mind that I'm not going to be popular, so genuinely that I look upon disregard or abuse as part of my bargain"
"I'm to write what I like; they're to say what they like."
The readers would have to get used to "a season of fragments or failures"
"But their patience would be rewarded, for we are trembling on the verge of one of the great ages of English literature."
"There's no doubt in my mind that I have found out how to begin to say something in my own voice; that interests me so that I feel I can go ahead without praise."
"The author, it was said, was dissatisfied with the form of fiction then in vogue, was determined to beg, borrow, steal, or even create another of her own."
Great novels are not written from theoretical blueprints
"It was necessary to write a book first and to invent a theory afterwards."
Does not share the closeness mother and daughter should heve with Clarissa
Modernism
On July 13th, 1923
The Title
Mrs.Dalloway
(compared to
Ulysses
)
Mental Illness
Septimus: Criticisms against the poor treatment of mentally unstable people in Virginia's time
Woolf: Bipolar Disorder
Has been treated at various asylums
Reflection on the
War
:There were still reminders of the First World War in 1923 London
Existential Issues
Intwine of Clarissa and Septimus
Literary Career
The Absurd
Despair
Existence Procedes Essence
By focusing on characters' thoughts and perceptions, Woolf emphasizes the significance of private thoughts rather than concrete events in a person's life. Most of the plots in Mrs Dalloway is realization that the characters subjectively made
Existentialism
Feminism & Sexuality
"Angle in the House"
Keeps up with and even embraces the social expectations of the wife of a patrician politician
But is still able to express herself and find distinction in the parties she throws
Constantly contemplates death,
but in the end she comes to terms with the concept after hearing of Septimus's death
Although she regrets many of her decisions
(such as marrying Richard),
she realizes that she must continue living as best as she can in her old age
Thinks often of the past and considers his old affair with Clarissa
He has been very unlucky in love in part because he compares the women he meets or sees to Clarissa
From a free-spirited liberal woman to a conformist
1928
1931
1929
1925
1907
To the Lighthouse
Orlando:A Biography
A Room of One's Own
The Waves
Bloomsbury Group
An intellectual circle of writers and artists
Mrs Dalloway
Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Rupert Brooke, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, David Garnett, and Roger Fry
1927
"...And every profession is open to the women of your generation, said Miss Kilman. So she might be a doctor. She might be a farmer...In short, she would like to have a profession"
"There they sat, hour after hour, talking in her bedroom at the top of the house, talking about like, how they were to reform the world. They meant to found a society to abolish private property, and actually had a letter written, though not sent out. The ideas were Sally's, of course--but very soon she was just as excited read Plato in bed before breakfast; read Morris; read Shelly by the hour"
Clarissa Dalloway sets out to buy flowers, and runs into Hugh Whitbread.
She thinks about death as she looks into shop windows
Clarissa hears a car backfire while in the flower shop. At this point, she notices many people gathering around, heading toward Buckingham Palace.
After her errand, she returns home, and thinks back to her days at Bourton, her family's old country home.
Peter Walsh, an old friend and former flame, stops by for a visit
After an intense emotional moment (where it becomes obvious that Peter is still in love with her), Peter leaves. Kind of awkward
Still at home, Clarissa continues to prepare for the party; Richard returns home, gives her flowers, and then leaves again
In the afternoon, Clarissa talks to her daughter Elizabeth, who has recently taken up a romantic relationship with a certain Miss Kilman.
After their conversation, she thinks about religion and looks out the window at a woman who lives across the way.
When the party begins, Clarissa greets her guests
She hears about the death of one of Sir William Bradshaw’s patients. She is upset that death has been mentioned at her party, but she admires his courage to throw his life away.
After going to her room for a breathe, Mrs Dalloway sees the woman across the way who, for the first time, looks back at her
And of course, she goes back to her party
Septimus walks down Bond Street with Lucrezia and, along with everyone else around, hears the explosion sound of a motor car
The couple then goes to Regent’s Park. They watch an airplane fly overhead, and Septimus has visions of Evans, the friend he lost in war.
Septimus begins to talks about how people are wicked. Rezia responds by urging him to go to his doctor’s appointment
In his madness, he hallucinates that he’s seeing Evans, but it’s really Peter Walsh.
Septimus and Rezia eventually return to their apartment. Along the way, an omniscient narrator talks about Septimus' motivation to join the war in the first place (to become a man and a hero)
Poor Septimus finally has his appointment with Sir William Bradshaw, who thinks he should go into one of his psychiatric homes
Later that day, he sits in his house while Rezia makes a hat. He watches the sunlight on the walls and enjoys his conversation with his wife
Just then, Dr Holmes enters the home. Septimus thinks it’s Sir William Bradshaw coming to get him, and before anyone can stop him, he jumps out the window and kills himself

The beginning

Both spent their youth as passion-driven, aggressive characters
The Point of Divergence

Clarissa: Rejected Peter's passionate love and married Richard Dalloway
Endured the loss of his comarade Evans in the battlefield
Maintained a life of security and domesticity
Endured PTSD and had halluciantions
Ponder over the idea of DEATH
"It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning."
"This being Mrs.Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs.Richard Dalloway"
"What is this terror? What is this ecstasy? He thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was."
"Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed[Clarissa] on the lips...The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally."
"The strange thing on looking back, was the purity, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not like one's feeling for a man. It was completely disinterested, and besides, it had a quality which could only exists between women, between women just grown up. It was protective, on her isde, sprang from a sense of being in league together."
Two sets of separate characters
Two narrative lines
Struggle to find balance in their confusing state between old and new self
Clarissa finds meaning by bringing people together
Septimus fluctuates back and forth between sanity and insanity, fighting to understand the meaning of the world
"It was her gift. Nothing else had she of the slightest importance; could not think, write, even play the piano. She muddled Armenians and Turks; loved success; hated discomfort; must be liked; talked oceans of nonsense; and to this day, ask her what the Equator was, and she did not know."
Individual conclusion about the meaning of his or her life
Upon hearing Septimus's death, Clarissa is humbled and able to accept her past choices and current situation
Septimus chooses to end his life, finding this to be the only way of reclaiming his sense of identity
"The whole world was clamouring: kill yourself, kill yourself, for our sake."
"No pleasure could equal, she thought, straightening the chairs, pushing in one book on the shelf, this having done with the triumphs of youth, lost herself in the process of living, to find it, with a shock of delight, as the sun rose, as the day sank."
"She felt glad that he had done it; it thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circle dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back. She must assemble."
"[Lucrezia...]having left Septimus, who wasn't Septimus any longer, to say hard, cruel, wicked things, to talk to himself, to talk to a dead man, on the seat over there."
World war I
Mental Turbulence
Individual Sentiments
"There they sat, hour after hour, talking in her bedroom at the top of the house, talking about life, how they were to reform the world...The ideas were Sally's, of course---but very soon she was just as excited."
"The strange thing, on looking back, was the puty, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not like one's feeling for a man. It was completely disinterested, and besides. It had a quality which could only exist between women, between women just grown up."
"And Clarissa had cared for Peter more than she had ever cared for Richard. Sally was positive of that"
Interior monologue
Full transcript