“Mrs Dalloway” is a modern novel focused on the characters characteristics and not on the plot. Virginia Woolf was concentrated on showing us the mental states her characters found themselves in.
This novel is considered to be the best literary work of the author, but also the best English novel from the time when it was released until today. The story is placed in the period of literary modernism. Virginia Wolf perfected writing in “stream of consciousness” style with this novel, because it doesn’t have a specific, concrete theme, but it’s rather following the line of thought of the main character. It consists of many thoughts, memories, hopes, and dreams.
The most important parts of the novel are those in which the main character – Mrs Dalloway – reflects on her life, explores its importance and essence. Like all people, she wonders if she could be happier, smarter or more fulfilled. Could her life be or become more important than it is?
However, in the end, she realizes that she chose the best that she could. She realizes that she is happy in her safe and predictable life, although it could be considered monotonous and boring. Her safety was and still is more important than excitement or some higher meaning and therefore she was not wrong marrying a man that provided for her, no matter how uninteresting he was.
Clarissa Dalloway is a 52 years old women and a wife of a rich parliament representative. The plot began in 1923 when she went to buy flowers in the London Bons Street.
Clarissa was about to throw a party where only the wealthy were welcomed, and after she had arrived home, a guest was waiting for her. It was Peter Walsh who came back from India. He used to be in love with her for a long time, but she wasn’t interested and rejected him.
When Peter left her house, he went to Renet’s Park where he started to think about his youth and the day Clarissa rejected him. There was also a mental patient Septimus Warren Smith, accompanied by his Italian wife, Lucrezia. Septimus was obsessed with the thoughts about death and suicide.
Night came, and so did Clarissa’s party. An admired psychologist Sir William Bradshaw also attended the party. He told everyone about Septimus killing himself.
Clarrisa felt sad, after hearing the news, even though she didn’t even know Septimus. At the same time her husband, Richard Dalloway, looked at their 17 years old daughter Elizabeth with a particular admiration in his eyes.
In the whole novel, there is no specified plot. We have some, not so exciting, everyday events like Clarissa buying flowers and the party. The author talks a lot about the states of minds, thoughts, memories and monologs that the characters lead.
Virginia took Clarissa through the streets of West End, and she merged her observations with the inner monologs in the form of thoughts, memories, and fantasies. In the book, we have everything about Clarissa from her exterior look to her inner thoughts, hopes, and fears. She has a strong feeling for her husband, but she is a bit afraid of his love. She just goes with the flow and lives and ordinary, safe life.
Through her we also get to know the rich West End filled with important people. The characters are all linked and through them, Virginia Woolf tried to make a vivid picture of the town.
Clarissa’s contrast was Septimus, who was dark and full of negative feeling and thoughts. The novel is made out of thoughts, feelings, suffering and pain that are introduced to us in the London’s parks and streets during day and night.
The most important event in the novel is the epiphany Clarissa has when she found out about Septimus suicide. She was left with a great impression because he killed himself by jumping from a window just so that he could avoid going to the hospital.
She admired him because he did what she could never do and we find that out by an inner monolog she has. Clarissa also envied him and felt that her life was empty because she could never do such a thing.
After she sees an old lady that leads a peaceful life, she acknowledges how short life is, how much do little things mean and that helps her sunny side to defeat her dark side.
She comes to a conclusion that even though she picked a peaceful and safe life next to an important and prestigious man she is also important, beautiful and the center of attention as host of her party.
Clarissa defeated her dark side, felt peaceful and returned to her guests.
Characters: Clarissa Dalloway, Richard Dalloway, Peter Walsh, Septimus Warren Smith, Sir William Bradshaw, Elizabeth
Clarissa Dalloway – she is a high-society lady, married to a parliament representative. She has everything she wants. Clarissa dedicated herself to being a good wife and a mother. She also takes good care of herself and always looks beautiful. She struggles with her emotions for Peter. He used to be in love with her, but she rejected him out of fear of her strong feelings. She has chosen a safe lifestyle even though she has a strong character and temper. Clarissa tried to hide the fact that her passion towards Peter could go too far. Her life is monotonous and unexciting, but she feels safe. In the end, she feels proud and satisfied because she is a rich man’s wife and a lady in the center of attention.
Septimus Warren Smith – an unhappy young man who finishes his life by jumping out a window to avoid being hospitalized. His suicide made Clarissa think about life, and he is her contrast.
Virginia Woolf Biography
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and critic whose stream-of-consciousness technique and poetic style are among the most significant contributions to the modern novel. Woolf was born in London, the daughter of the philosopher Sir Leslie Stephen, who educated her at home.
In about 1905 after the successive deaths of her mother and father, Woolf and her sister, Vanessa (an artist) made their home a gathering place for the former university colleagues of their older brother. The circle, which came to be known as the Bloomsbury group, included in addition to other members of the London intelligentsia, the writer Leonard Woolf, whom Virginia married in 1912. With her husband, she founded Hogarth Press in 1917.
Virginia Woolf’s early novels “The Voyage Out” (1915), “Night and Day” (1919) and “Jacob’s Room” (1922), offer increasing evidence of her determination to expand the scope of the novel beyond mere storytelling. The next novels, “Mrs. Dalloway” (1925) and “To The Lighthouse” (1927), the plot, is non-existent. Instead, psychological effects are achieved through the use of imagery and metaphor.
Woolf was a critic of considerable influence, as well as a biographer and feminist. In “A Room of One’s Own” (1929), she was among the first writers to espouse the cause of women’s rights.
Throughout her life, Woolf suffered many bouts of mental illness. It is thought that she suffered from what is now known as Bipolar disorder.
In March of 1941, Woolf, deeply depressed, committed suicide by filling her pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home. Her husband Leonard buried her ashes under a tree in the garden of their home.