Mrs Dalloway was published in 1925. It is a complex modernist novel by Virginia Woolf. It is a wonderful study of its principal characters. The novel enters into the consciousness of the people it takes as it subjects, creating a powerful, psychologically authentic effect.
A general summary
The events narrated in Mrs Dalloway take place on a single day in June 1923. The novel begins with Clarissa Dalloway going out early in the morning to buy flowers for a party she is going to have at her house that evening. The novel closes as the party begins to fade at around midnight. Since the novel is not divided into chapters, the remark of the passage of time -from the Big Ben, or the clock at the Houses of Parliament- provides a regular and objective framework. The characters move around London all the time. The narration shifts from one character to another so that the events of the day are told from many points of view. For much of the novel we follow the consciousness of Clarissa Dalloway.
Clarissa Dalloway -complex character. She married her husband to have more freedom for herself. She remembers the summer spent in Bourton with some friends -Peter, Richard,Sally,etc – when she was eighteen. The events of that summer influenced the entire couse of her life.
Peter Walsh- a romantic man who is still in love with Clarissa. She rejected him and decided to marry Richard Dalloway.
Richard Dalloway- the typical victorian man, he doesn’t express his feelings.He is a conservative member of Parliament.
Elizabeth Dalloway- the seventeen-year-old daughter of the Dalloways.
Septimus Warren Smith -a veteran of the war who suffers from delayed shell-shock and is mentally unbalanced. Refusing to submit to the power of doctors, he throws himself from his window and dies.
Sally Seton- a rebelious young girl who turns up at Clarissa’s party transformed into Lady Rosseter.
Possible Titles– Virginia Woolf thought about different titles for her most famous novel. They were:
The Hours, the importance of the time troughout the novel.
The Party, since everything is connected to it and expresses the frivolity of society
At home, with an ironic and ambivalent sense since it can a liberating or an oppressiveplace for a woman at that time.
Mrs Dalloway, which implies the supression of identity.
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