Somewhere within the narrative of Mrs. Dalloway, there seems to lie what could be understood as a restatement - or, perhaps, a working out of - the essentially simple, key theme or motif found in Woolf's famous feminist essay A Room of One's Own. Mrs. Dalloway does in fact possess "a room of her own - " and enjoys an income (or the use of an income) that is at least "five hundred a year - " (Room: 164). But most importantly, Clarissa Dalloway also deals with ways of working out female economic necessity, personal space, and the manifestation of an "artistic" self-conception. That this perceived "room" of her famous essay can also serve as a psychological model becomes clearer in Mrs. Dalloway, and the novel reveals another face to this classical essay's main motif. A personal room is, more profoundly, a certain conception of the "soul" or psyche's journey through life, as Sally states in the novel's climax: "Are we not all prisoners? She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched on the wall of his cell, and she had felt that was true of life - one scratched on the wall" (293). Mrs. Dalloway is a more nuanced mediation of the imagination that powerfully brings into relief qualifications, extensions, and variations on her later, more sociological work's powerful central and titular metaphor.
The book commences with the sentence, "Mrs. Dalloway said that she'd buy the flowers herself."(3) It is an immediate and assertive portrayal of Clarissa Dalloway as a pecunious and fully self-motivated agent. It is a one-sentence paragraph, and indeed could stand alone as a sort of summary of the entire book (or the book's main philosophical thrust).
Clarissa is a woman who has...
... middle of paper ...
...tective shell, in effect, to expose her purer essence, and his moment of revelation is parallel to Clarissa's earlier revelation (that she achieved by way of entering a male perspective) represented by the crocus.
Thus, in Mrs. Dalloway, a more lyrical ideal and various perspectives on the room of one's own motif and themes arises, and is manifest also as the enriching "box of flowers" idea. Woolf hints at a psychological androgynous alchemy that might be achievable via literal marriage (as in the case of Clarissa's marriage to Richard), or a purely imagined or "negative" marriage (as with Peter), and works out a model of negotiated psychological health as an antidote and remedy to the bad doctoring portrayed in her book, and that must have been typical of her time.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. San Diego, CA: Harcourt & Brace, 1981.
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