Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Author Biography
Virginia Woolf was born January 25, 1882 in London, England. She was an English novelist, critic, and essayist. Virginia Woolf is remembered as one of England’s most distinguished writers of the middle part of the twentieth century. Her novels are probably best described as a literary style which attempts to inspire impressions rather than recreating reality. Virginia Woolf grew up in Cambridge, England. Her mother was the famous beauty, Julia Prinsep Stephen and her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, was a notable critic, author, and mountaineer.

Mrs. Dalloway takes place during a single day in June 1923. The story revolves around a small group of people from London, England. For the most part, people are living in peace and remembering their lives from before the long and bitter World War I. This novel is about people's inner lives. Mrs. Dalloway centers a lot of attention on how people spend much of their time thinking about their past memories, regrets, and hopes. Pretty much all of the characters spend a lot of time thinking about what life could have been for them. On the plus side, the majority of the characters are well off financially and have considerable free time. On the contrary, these characters are unhappy for the most part of their days which is quite mindboggling to those around them. The reason why everyone is getting together is because Clarissa is hosting a formal party. It is at the party where she bumps into Peter Walsh, the man she was once madly in love with. Peter has just returned from India and decided to stop by and vist. Seeing Peter for the first time in a while makes Clarissa reminsce about the past and the choices she has made. While this is going on another Londoner, Septimus Warren Smith is having a bad day along with his wife Lucrezia. Septimus is struggling with the memories of his good friend Evans, who was killed during the war. He also seems to think that unknown forces are sending him messages which is making him more insane. Lucrezia eventually decides that she has had enough and brings him to see two different doctors. Neither of them can do much to make him feel any better. As a result, Septimus ends up killing himself because he feels that that is his only other alternative. Overall Clarissa's party ends up being a big success. The fact that the Prime Minister attends the party shows how well the party went.

  • Clarissa Dalloway - She is animated and cares a great deal of what people think of her. Clarissa struggles to balance her desire for privacy and her ability to communicatw with others. throughout the day she reflects on her decision to marry her husband Richard, instead of her friend Peter Walsh. Even though she's happy with Richard, she often contemplates with her decision to marry Richard instead of Peter.
  • Septimus Warren Smith - A World War I veteran who is still suffering from shell shock. He is married to Lucrezia Smith. Considered by many as insane, he is not very fond of the English society. Septimus is pale, has a hawklike postur, and wears a worn down shabby overcoat. Being in the war changed him greatly. Before the war he as a young, idealistic, aspiring poet. Post war, he regards human nature as evil.
  • Peter Walsh - A close friend of Clarissa's. He was once desperately in love Clarissa. He moved to India after being rejeected by Clarissa when she was eighteen. Often times he has romantic problems but is currently in a healthy relationship. He wears a horn-rimmed glasses and a bow tie.
  • Richard Dalloway -He is married to Clarissa Dalloway, the main character. Richard is a loving husband and father to their only daughter, Elizabeth Dalloway. He appreciates the English tradition. Unfortunately, he has failed time and time again to make it into the Cabinet.
  • Hugh and Evelyn Whitbread - Hugh is a well-known Eglishman who constantly writes to the Times. His wife, Evelyn suffers from a sickness ailment. She spends most of her time at a nursing home. Mr. Whitbread is a well-tailored man who is well respected by his peers.
  • Elizabeth Dalloway - Clarissa's and Richard's only child. She is a very considerate seventeen year old. Elizabeth enjoys going into town with her father. They have a tight knit bond between each other.

    Literary criticism
Suzette Henke notes, " Clarissa's gatherings serve as... creative acts of social artistry." Her ideas are based on the religious models Woolf uses. David Daiches adds, " There is a suggestion throughout that the experiences of individuals combine to form a single indeterminate whole." Deboarah Guth also states , " Clariisa's modes of self- invention, glancing at the importance of her parties to the characters self- definition."

Personal Review

Overall I thought the book was pretty good. I never read a novel before that took place all in one day. The story line wasnt typical or cliche which i appreciated because I feel as though a lot of material is repettive when it comes to reading books. For those who like to read I would reccomend this book to them. You do have to pay close attention to the reading however because it can be misleading at times.