Mrs. Dalloway Didn’t Make It All The Way

by capreviewroom

Eric Salvador

Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher and writer of short stories; she was known as one of the more modernist literary figures in the twentieth century.  Woolf was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, which was an enormously influential group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers, and artists.  She was a significant figure during the interwar period in the London literary society.  Some of her famous works were “Orlando” (1928), To “The Light House” (1927) and “Mrs. Dalloway” (1925).

“Mrs. Dalloway” was published in 1925 on May 14th.  This novel is about protagonist Clarissa Dalloway a lady who is going around London gathering things to get ready for her party that she is having tonight.  While she is out and about the nice day reminds her of her youth at Bourghton.  This makes her think of her choice of husband, Richard Dalloway and Peter Walsh.  Richard Dalloway being Clarissa’s current husband who is deeply involved with his work in the government.  Peter Walsh being a puzzling and demanding old friend of Clarissa who rejected his marriage proposal in the past.  Peter bringing back these conflicts with a visit in the morning.

Septimus Warren Smith who is a World War One veteran who spends his day in a park.  Septimus suffers from “ shell shock” and hallucinations of his deceased friend Evans.  He is at the park with his Italian born wife Lucrezia, where Peter is observing them.  Septimus is visited by frequent and unreadable hallucinations of his deceased friend Evans who died in the war.  Later that day after he has been committed to a psychiatric hospital he commits suicide by jumping out of a window.

Clarissa’s party in the evening is being attended by a majority of the characters that she has met in the book.  While the night goes on she hears about the suicide of Septimus at the party and gradually comes to admire the act of this stranger, which she considers an effort to preserve the innocence of his happiness.

“Mrs Dalloway” has an interesting and involving storyline, but it is difficult to get all the way to the end of the novel. Sometimes the mood is humorous, but an underlying sadness is always present.  The underlying sadness is due to the themes of the novel, which consist of the fear of death and the threat of oppression.

During the book there are no chapters, parts or sections which makes it difficult to find a good place to pause reading.  The point of view changes constantly, often switching from one character’s stream of consciousness to another within a single paragraph. Reading should be relaxing and engaging, but Woolf uses free indirect discourse, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person pronouns such as he and she, which causes the book to be confusing at times and a difficult read.

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