Monday, September 29, 2008

Loss of Passion and Feeling

"She could not even get an echo of her old emotion." (pg. 34)

Again, Clarissa begins to feel disconnected from the people around her and her own feeling. She has been thinking back to her days at Bourton with Sally and how pure and deep her feelings were for Sally. She felt alive then as opposed to how she feels detached now. Sally represents a time before Clarissa had to really "grow up" and get married to Richard. In marrying Richard, Clarissa begins to feel like she sacrificed true happiness and even her own identity for security and to bend to societies wishes.

William Morris

"...when Sally gave her William Morris, it had to be wrapped in brown paper..." (pg. 33)

William Morris was a visionary decorator, artist and early Socialist. He is well known for his revolutionary ideas in regards to home decor but also for his strong feelings toward Socialism. The fact that Sally gives Clarissa a book of William Morris' writing speaks to how different and "radical" Sally should be seen. In turn, his writing probably helped Sally and Clarissa think of "how they were to reform the world".


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Baron Marbot's Memoirs

"The candle was half burnt down and she had read deep in Baron Marbot's Memoirs." (pg. 31)

Baron Marbot's Memoirs detail Napoleon's retreat from Moscow after failing to capture Russia and take over. Napoleon, unable to continue attacking Russia in the dead of winter, reluctantly retreated back to France. During his lengthily retreat, his number of men dropped from 50,000 to 20,000. After his failure in the East, Napoleon all but disappeared from world view. It is interesting that Clarissa chooses such a dry and depressing subject to read about at night. War, while not an event that takes place during Mrs. Dalloway, is something that has a profound impact on the characters and action of the novel, including Septimus' shell shock and the general public living in a "post-war England".



""Oh look," she implored him. But what was there to look at? A few sheep. That was all." (pg. 26)

In this scene, Lucrezia is trying to make Septimus notice the young boys playing cricket in the park since the doctor told her that Septimus needed to look at things outside his own head. However, Septimus is having none of it. Since coming home from batle, Septimus has lost all hope in the human nature. He sees the people around him as "sheep". These people simply follow orders or do what everyone else does. They are unimportant and mindless to him. He sees no point in paying attention to these "sheep". Woolf clearly understood how easy it was to lose hope in people or see everyone around you as mindless and false, so she gave this idea to Septimus. Since he is "insane", he can see past the visage others put forth. Clarissa also sees this sometimes and, as vain as she may seem sometimes, she shares the wish for things to be more meaningful with Septimus.

Piccadilly Circus

"The motor car with its blinds dran and an air of inscrutable reserve proceeded towards Piccadilly..." (pg. 16)

Piccadilly Circus is a busy traffic and shopping area located at the junction of five major streets. The name refers to a fancy ruffled collar, a piccadil, made famous by a tailor who lived in the area. The circus part simply refers to how the modern traffic is now directed around the area. Woolf uses Piccadilly as a place where hundreds of people come together no matter what class they are from, showing contrast and similarities between such characters as Clarissa (upper class) to the Smiths (working class).


Loss of Feeling and Identity

"She had a right to his arm, thought it was without feeling. He would give her, who was so simple, so impulsive, only twenty-four, without friends in England, who had left Italy for his sake, a piece of bone." (pg. 16)

Much like in the passage where Clarissa feels she is losing her identity, Lucrezia also feels like she had lost who she is and much of the feeling that was once in her life. Earlier in the book, Lucrezia mentiosn how she misses her home and how she could be back in Milan with her sisters. Instead, she is essentially alone in England. In dealing with Septimus' increasing instability, Lucrezia feels she is losing herself. She also feels underappreciated by her husband, which is evident in this sentence. Lucrezia compares all she has given up to the fact that Septimus gives her his arm without feeling or purpose.

Extended Metaphor

"But now mystery had brushed them with her wing; they had heard the voice of authority; the spirit of religion was abroad with her eyes bandaged tight and her lips gaping wide." (pg. 14)

Throughout Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf uses hundreds of extended metaphors. In this scene, the entire area of Westminster and Piccadilly Circus has been set all atwitter by a mysterious passenger in a motor car. However, barely two minutes after the car has left Piccadilly circus, everyone becomes completely enamored of a skywriting plane. It speaks to the shallowness and short attention span of the citizens that they can switch obsessions so quickly.

Loss of Identity

"She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa anymore; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway." (pg. 11)

In this passage, the idea and theme of loss of identity is put on full display. Throughout the entire novel, Clarissa ponders her life and what everything means. Here she begins to feel and then wonder at the strage feeling of losing who she is. She has gone from being a young girl named Clarissa to an older woman who is now just a wife, just Mrs. Dalloway. She feels "invisible" and empty now that she realizes there really is nothing left for her to do in life but be Mrs. Richard Dalloway.

Fear no more the heat o' the sun

"Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the furious winter's rages." (
pg. 9)

These two lines are from a poem written by William Shakespeare. In short, Shakespeare's poem says to no longer fear worldly woes because you're dead. Mentions of dust, graves and "quiet consummation" strengthen this message. Woolf clearly chose to allude to this poem because Clarissa had just been thinking to herself about whether anything matters in the end. Including a short line from a poem about death and release amongst a passage where the main character is pondering whether her life (or anyone else's life) matters go together.


St. James' Park

"...they came back in the middle of St. James' Park on a fine morning..." (pg. 7)

St. James' Park is a famous park in London surrounded by three palaces-- Buckingham Palace, Westminster (which now holds the Houses of Parliament) and St. James' Palace. Clarissa says memories of Peter often come back to her while she is walking through St. James' Park. She argues with herself about how Peter never noticed the beautiful things of the park, the natural things and sees this as a negative point in his character. In contrast, Clarissa notices many minute things about everyday life that she sees as important and beautiful. This adds the contrast between Clarissa and Peter.


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The War

"For it was the middle of June. The War was over..." (pg. 5)

When Clarissa Dalloway speaks of how everything is wonderful now that "The War" is over, she is referring to World War I. Fought between the Allied Troops (The British Empire, Russia, France, Belgium, Italy and the United States) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria), WWI really was the first war to include much of the world. WWI was the the first war to use trench warfare and incorporate technology on a large scale into fighting. WWI ended in November of 1918 with an estimated ten million casulties on the battlefield with another twenty million wounded. The War had a profound impact on all of Europe, including foreign policy, new borders and boundaries and different kinds of warfare.


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Big Ben

Big Ben is the giant clock tower that stands adjacent to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. While most people refer to the entire tower as Big Ben, it is actually the large bell inside the tower that was named Big Ben. During WWII when the Commons chamber in Parliament was desecrated by a bomb, Big Ben remained intact and operating. Big Ben has long served as an important landmark in London and an important symbol of enduring strength for Britain.

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