Mrs. Dalloway

Topics: Sociology, Mrs Dalloway, Working class Pages: 7 (2928 words) Published: May 16, 2013
Akshit Bhatnagar
Computer Science and Engineering
April 19, 2013
Role of Mrs. Dalloway in “Mrs. Dalloway” and effect of social structure on the role Mrs. Dalloway, a novel written by Virginia Woolf, details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway who is a high-society woman in post-World War I England. Clarissa Dalloway is fifty one year old protagonist of the novel. She is wife of Richard Dalloway and mother of Elizabeth. The novel has described a single day bringing in different characters to show the social structure of post-World War I England. Clarissa spends the day organizing her party which is to be held tonight and also thinking of the time when she was young. There is a second main character Septimus, a war veteran, who is disturbed due to his friend’s death in the war. He suffers from hallucinations of his deceased friend. He thinks as if it was his mistake that Evans was killed and he should be punished with death sentence and therefore he often tells his wife Lucrezia that he will kill himself. Lucrezia is an Italian woman who has no friends in London and had to leave her family to marry Septimus who is now mentally ill so she is very homesick. Story starts with Clarissa going out to buy flowers in the morning for her party that she will host in the evening. On the way to the flower shop she reflects her past thinking about her decisions including her decision to marry Richard Dalloway rather than Peter Walsh. Peter Walsh is an old friend of Clarissa. She rejected his marriage proposal in the past. As Clarissa buys flowers the story is shifted to Septimus who is terrified when he hears the sound of car backfiring. He struggles with the after effects of war. He still continues to have conversations with his friend Evans whom he lost in the war. Virginia Woolf starts by emphasizing the fact that Mrs. Dalloway herself is going out to do the shopping. She has been ill for some time and now that she has recovered she is going to do what she loves. There is one more reason to go on her own that her maid Lucy is doing some other work. Today seems special as it fresh and brisk. The novel pieces together bits of Mrs. Dalloway’s past and bits of Mrs. Dalloway’s present on a single day trying to show what she was in her youth and what she has now become. When she was young Peter Walsh told her that she would someday become into a ‘Perfect Hostess’. This was said out of jealousy but it somehow is coming out to be true. As she heads out for flower shop, she has thoughts about her appearance which she thinks is too bird-like. We come know this when she compares herself to Lady Bexborough. She considers Lady Bexborough to be ideal. She would like to have dark and crumpled complexion as of Lady Bexborough. She also wishes if she could be less feminine and a little more masculine. So this tells her that she not happy with her outward appearance. Mrs. Dalloway has been ill, has been resurrected, and is again enjoying the sight s of this busy London morning. She is happy with noisy goings-on and at times she is lost in thought about the decisions she has made in her lifetime. Is she happy as “Mrs. Dalloway”? She is no more Clarissa, she is Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa chose Richard Dalloway over Peter Walsh as Peter was very demanding of her. Peter would have insisted on sharing. Marrying Peter would have cost Clarissa all private thoughts and feelings. So she chose safety and security in Richard Dalloway. She restricts the boundaries of her secret world. She is never completely relaxed or open with anyone. She attempts to keep her most serious thought to herself. Most people think that they are always same but the truth is that they are different in different situations. We behave in different ways when we are friends, family or staff. Mrs. Dalloway also is a different person when she is with her husband and she isn’t the same with her daughter. Clarissa is giving a party tonight and these should be happy moments but...

Cited: Zwerdling, Alex. “Mrs. Dalloway and The Social System.” PMLA Vol. 92, No. 1 pp. 69-82. Modern Language Association, Jan., 1977. Print.
Forbes, Shannon. “Equating Performance with Identity: The Failure of Clarissa Dalloway 's Victorian "Self" in Virginia Woolf 's "Mrs. Dalloway." The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, Vol. 38, No. 1, Special Convention Issue: Performance.  Midwest Modern Language Association, Spring,2005. Print.
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