Essay Mrs. Dalloway

Essay Mrs. Dalloway

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I. Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, was published on May 14, 1925 in London, England. The novel follows Clarissa Dalloway and a variety of other characters throughout the span of one day in their lives in 1923 London. Woolf utilizes a narrative method of writing. With the novel’s structure, the narrator possesses the ability to move inside of a character’s mind and compose her thoughts and emotions immediately as events occur throughout the day. The novel’s main character, Clarissa, is a middle-aged woman who belongs to the upper-middle class in society and is well-married to a Member of Parliament—Richard Dalloway. Clarissa’s day is full of arrangements for a dinner party she plans to host that evening. During the novel, numerous other characters such as Peter Walsh, Septimus Smith, Miss Kilman, Sally Seton, and Hugh Whitbread are introduced and characterized by their inner thoughts and dialogue. Not all the characters maintain a social connection, but all remain attached through time and events that each has uniquely witnessed. Woolf included her purpose for writing the novel in her journal, stating she wanted to “show the despicableness of people like Ott (Wilson 10).” (Lady Ottoline Morrell, an English aristocrat and hostess, was a rival to Woolf in the Bloomsbury Group.) Many critics often compare Mrs. Dalloway to Joyce’s Ulysses. The novel was read by Woolf in 1922, prior to beginning her own novel, at the request of T.S. Eliot. The similarity lies within the walk through London by Clarissa Dalloway with Leopold Bloom’s walk through Dublin. However, the commonalities remain due to parallel characteristics, rather than a direct influence (10). The character of Septimus Smith allowed Woolf to include stories of her own mental...


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...natural metaphors to symbolize a social hierarchy, Woolf challenges the accepted fact that a woman’s place in society is her fate, predetermined before her birth by earlier generations’ stipulations.

Even in the time span of one day, Clarissa Dalloway reflects on the choices of her past and its effects on her current situation. She is forced to determine whether trivial events and decisions can dramatically affect one’s life. Through her inner conflict, she realizes that the appearances of herself and society do not always reveal the reality of the condition at hand. Despite the fact that time only moves forward, we must all recognize that time is limitless within the expanse of our minds and is never restricted to only the present. It is what we decide to construct with our present time that defines who we are in the past and who we will become in the future.

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