Existential Crisis In Mrs Dalloway

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While she is buying flowers for her party, Mrs. Dalloway has an existential crisis regarding the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. She reflects on the atmosphere of the London streets and her old suitor Peter Walsh as she reads some lines from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Mrs. Dalloway’s existential crisis demonstrates situational irony since the concept of life and death is quite deep and complex, yet she seems to live a shallow life consisting of throwing parties and picking which flowers to buy. Although she is contemplating her own mortality, Woolf’s word choice, such as “consoling,” suggests that death is positive and liberating, applying a light tone to a dark situation, adding to the irony. Mrs. Dalloway describes the trees,…show more content…
The extensive descriptions of Mrs. Dalloway’s inner thoughts and observations reveals Woolf’s “stream of consciousness” writing style, which emphasizes the complexity of Clarissa’s existential crisis. She also alludes to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, further revealing her preoccupation with death as she quotes lines from a funeral song. She reads these lines while shopping in the commotion and joy of the streets of London, which juxtaposes with her internal conflicts regarding death. Shakespeare, a motif in the book, represents hope and solace for Mrs. Dalloway, as his lines form Cymbeline talk about the comforts found in death. From the beginning of the book, Mrs. Dalloway has shown a fear for death and experiences multiple existential crises, so her connection with Shakespeare is her way of dealing with the horrors of death. The multiple layers to this passage, including the irony, juxtaposition, and allusion, reveal Woolf’s complex writing style, which demonstrates that death is constantly present in people’s minds, affecting their everyday…show more content…
Dalloway’s character development. When Mrs. Dalloway finds out that Septimus, her foil in the book, committed suicide, she came to the realization that “She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun” (186). Because Mrs. Dalloway is not separated into chapters or sections, the book is mainly divided by the striking of the clock. Every time the clock strikes, it interrupts the thoughts of the characters and lends to a moment of epiphany or a shift in the book. Because the clock is a symbol for the everlasting progression of time, it waits for nobody. The clock continuously ticks, which Mrs. Dalloway was originally concerned about as the inevitable marching of time would eventually lead to her death. However, after learning about Septimus’s death, she realizes how beautiful life is. Although she has never met him, Mrs. Dalloway identifies with Septimus, and through his death, she learns to appreciate life and to accept death. The clock strikes to signify not only the progression of time, but also Mrs. Dalloway’s revelation. Woolf’s ability to relate the striking of the clock to the characters reveals her multi-faceted sophisticated
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