Initially, i thought this book would be fun and easy book to read, but its been painful for me. By far, this is the first book that i have trouble understanding plot. I agree that mrs.dalloway is very different from other books. Particularly for its language. The author Woolf is very descriptive in all aspects of Mrs. Dalloway’s life and her surroundings. I’m trying really hard to catch on into what is happening but i found myself confused because i couldn't keep up with what the book was trying to say. i personally felt like it was jumping around into different things. There is way too many commas in each sentence. Also, it has mentioned a lot of names in a short period. However, it is interesting how Woolf describes each person and thing with great detail, but this book wasn't what i expected it to be like and i'm still trying to understand it.
So im not sure, but I think Mrs. Dalloway is going back and forth between the past and the present, which may be the reason why I am so confused. I don’t really know how old she is because I don’t think it has mentioned it, but I know that she is thinking back to when she was 18, which is written in the first page, “(for a girl of eighteen as she then was)”.
I also noticed the themes of age and death, mentioned by Faedhra. Mrs.Dalloway feels very young, but at the same time unspeakably aged. She mentions a lot about death on pages 8 and 9. I think death is something that she is afraid of and something that she doesn’t want to happen. I also liked how they mentioned the quote, “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun. Nor the furious winter’s rages,” from Shakespeare. I took the quote as their reminder to not fear death because it’s unavoidable. What did you guys make out of that quote?
Connecting with Shakespeare, there was another quote on page 35, “if it were now to die ‘twere now to be most happy.” The quote is from Shakespeare’s Othello. In Mrs. Dalloway, the quote is referred to Mrs. Dalloway’s feelings upon her meeting Sally Seton. Before this quote Mrs. Dalloway returns home from buying flowers and proceeds upstairs to her solitary attic room. She picks up a book to read, but she couldn’t fall asleep in her narrow bed so she starts thinking about her childhood memories with Sally Seton. This quote along with her memory with Sally led me to question Mrs. Dalloway’s sexuality.
Initially the novel describes her as this innocent and pure woman, living in a “white” attic with “clean white sheets, white being a symbol of innocence, purity, light, as well as emptiness. She describes her relationship with Richard and how their love has faded over the years. She feels that she has lost him because she’s aging and “breastless” and unable to live the youthful life again for it was now “out of the window”. The man even decides to go to an “extraordinary amusing party” without mentioning or inviting his own wife. However, when she talks about Sally, she mentions the word “love” repetitively and her feelings for women.
“But this question of love (she thought, putting her coat away,) this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Has not that, after all, been love?”
Reading this, it really made me think that she might have been homosexual. The most sexual intimacy that Mrs. Dalloway has in the novel is not with her husband, but when Sally kisses her on the lips. She describes it as “the most exquisite moment of her whole life” (35). “She felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it- a diamond…” (35). For her to call it a diamond, it must have been a real precious gift and delightful experience. I really thought she was gay for a good couple pages and I’m still unsure if it’s true. I thought it might have been like a close sister-like relationship, but it just seemed too queer… to be that simple.
Even in other works of literature like Shakespeare, there are questionable phrases that may reflect on homosexuality as well. Is this purposely done or are people over thinking it like me? What did you guys think about their relationship?
Also, Mrs.Dalloway is a 52 years old woman to answer Faedhra's earlier question. (Bottom of p.36)
Referring back to Faedhra’s first post, she made a comment saying that Mrs. Dalloway “wanted to be a more visible character.” I totally agree with Faedhra. Jessica also brought up the quote “She would buy the flowers herself” and I connected both ideas. I think that Jessica’s quote showed how Mrs. Dalloway wants to be the more visible character because the first thing we understand about Mrs. Dalloway in the book is the fact that she will buy the flowers herself because Lucy, her servant, was busy. It’s interesting for Woolf to start the book this way because by making that decision, it definitely made Mrs. Dalloway stick out. Mrs. Dalloway portrays independence and it’s much stronger because it’s coming from a women. Reading it, it made me feel like she was in control and had some sort of power.
However at the same time, I feel that this introduction also led to expose the flimsy lifestyle of upper class women. Even though she chose to go out and buy the flowers herself, she’s ONLY buying flowers and it’s such a simple task. Her life in general, only consists of throwing parties to gather friends and to show how great of a life she has with Richard. Just like how in today’s society, television shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County are broadcast to focus on the luxurious lives of rich women living in California. In my opinion, the women are purposely trying to show off what they have so people could envy them because they’re supposedly “rich and beautiful.” I think Mrs. Dalloway’s parties serve the same purpose, trying to cover up her weakness and the truth behind her and Richard’s faded relationship. Inside she’s a weak women because all she can do is throw social parties at her house. The parties in a way make her a stronger person because in those parties, it’s when she’s surrounded by the most people.
Now, I want to bring up the moment when there was as aeroplane in the sky. I thought this moment was quite interesting. Everyone in the streets stopped to figure out what the aeroplane was spelling which came out to be Toffee… I’m unsure why the message came out to be Toffee, but it didn’t even matter. It showed how everyone has different ways of interpreting things. The craziest interpretation of the letters was when Septimus thought that the letters were there sending him a coded message… As they tried to figure out the word, it was as if the people in society were trying to find meaning in their own lives because war had just ended so their confused with what to do. Do you guys agree with my theory??
Is it just me or do you guys find this book similar to the Portrait as well. There’s this stream of consciousness that exists in both novels and I can’t help but notice it. Both Mrs. Dalloway and Stephen notice things like the nature and they both have this way of talking to themselves like they are aware of everything. There is also this struggle with aging. Mrs. Dalloway has fears over getting old and becoming ugly, weak, and lonely. She wishes to be young again. Stephen, on the other hand, feels like he doesn’t fit in with the younger kids. He wants to grow up faster because he’s sick of being near foolish kids around his age. What do you girls think? Is there any other similarities?
Before we end the first session, I just wanted to talk about Peter. Near the end of the first read, we learn about Peter through his point of view. Peter can’t seem to get over Clarissa. She is the first person he sees when he arrives and constantly he is comparing himself to Richard. I thought it was interesting that Woolf chose the name Richard which I think is simply because he’s “rich”. Peter “had no doubt about that; he was a failure, compared with all this, the inlaid table, the mounted paper knife, the dolphin and the candlesticks, the chain covers and the old valuable English tinted prints- he was a failure!” (43) He appears to be ashamed of himself and jealous of the Dalloways for everything that they have. Peter has no job and he knows Daisy is nothing compared to Clarissa. Daisy is the woman who Peter says he is in love with, but she is already married and has children so his life isn’t very successful. I don’t think he is really in love with Daisy, but she’s just a momentary replacement for him because everything that he talks about past or present involves Clarissa. However, I don’t really know why he’s so into Clarissa when he describes her of being “arrogant; unimaginative; (and) prudish” (59).
There was also another part that I didn’t understand what was happening. Starting on page 56 to page 58, it’s the part where he’s dreaming because it says that “he woke up with extreme suddenness” right after. I didn’t understand what was happening in his dream or what he was dreaming about and what it was suppose to signify so hopefully someone can help me out and give me just a brief summary when we start the next session.
Reading the part where Peter and Lucrezia were in the same park (Regent’s Park?), I saw similarities between Peter’s and Lucrezia’s character.
Peter is unable to get rid of the past and the memories that he had with Clarissa. As he’s sitting on a bench, he thinks about the time when he confronted her about his feelings and how she rejected him. Peter cries “it was awful… awful, awful!” (64). Lucrezia expresses the same reaction when she sees Septimus’s actions. When he was talking to himself again, she says, “It was awful, awful!” (68). Both Peter and Lucrezia have precisely the same expression and that’s what links these two characters. Peter can’t seem to understand Clarissa. For example, he questions why she introduced Elizabeth as “Here’s my Elizabeth” and not simply “This is Elizabeth.” Like Peter, Lucrezia can’t understand Septimus’s insanity either. He talks to himself, sees dogs turn to men, and for a moment he even thought about committing suicide with her. Both of them are suffering at the same time because of love. They feel as if they don’t deserve to be suffering for someone who is not worth their time, yet they can’t let the person go.
Jessica made a comment of how Clarissa and Septimus were connected through being opposites and I think it’s interesting how Woolf makes another connection between Peter and Lucrezia. I think Woolf does this so the reader can easily compare the characters and it allows Woolf to make the smooth transitions between the different stories of each character. For example, when Peter Walsh meets the old lady who is singing, he feels sorry for the poor old lady and gives her a coin. Then a subtle transition occurs where it starts out “‘Poor old woman,’ said Rezia Warren Smith…” It was a smooth transition to change to Rezia’s point of view and their sympathy for the old woman was also another similarity between the two.
I think the reason why Septimus married Lucrezia was only because he was losing himself after his best friend, Evan, died in the war. “ He couldn’t feel, but scissors rapping, girls laughing, hats being made protected him; he was assured of safety” (87). Lucrezia’s family was hat makers so the quote was referring to her. I think “hats” may be chosen specifically because it symbolizes warmth and protection. It was what Septimus lacked which is why Septimus felt protected around her. Also the way they were so busy cutting, trimming, and laughing made him feel less lonely and it was something for him to focus on. Septimus had basically lost his purpose of living because “he could not feel” and “even taste had no relish to him” (87). He held no emotions for anything that was happening around him. When he became engaged to Lucrezia, it happened “one evening” (86). It’s as if it just happened so suddenly that he didn’t even think about what he was doing because “panic was in him” (86). I think in a way he used her because he didn’t really love her, but needed the comfort and support since he was scared by his lack of emotions. Then on page 91, it says “how he had married his wife without loving her; had lied to her; seduced her” which explains clearly that he had no love for her. However, he does feel guilty because he knows that she was suffering as well. Each time she sobbed, “he felt nothing” (90) and all he could do was “descend another step into the pit” (90). I think with all the talk about death and dark imagery like “the pit”, it’s foreshadowing that Septimus will end up committing suicide.
Wow Faedhra, I can see you did quite a lot of research.
I thought it was interesting how you talked about the solitary man and the song! and how it reflects upon Peter’s life. It makes sense to me now. Peter defines solitary, alone and without companion. He is basically this lonely guy who seeks for love. He loves Clarissa, but she rejected him and then with the new girl Daisy, she is already married to another man and has children. There’s no one there for him and he can only remain as the solitary traveler. You can definitely feel how lonely and alone he is when Woolf describes his walk in the park. He appears as this traveler or a passer-by who’s thinking to himself.
When he sat next to the old nurse, there was also this baby. Immediately I thought about the idea of “age” because beside him was someone who was young and old. It even said “he did want to be bothered (feeling a little drowsy as he did) by people asking him the time.”
Time seems to appear quite often in the novel and it makes me think that Peter may be afraid of aging just like Clarissa. Time is also difficult for Peter because he can’t seem to stay in the present, but always weaves in and out of time when he talks about the past and the future. His past comes to haunt him but it is the future which brings him hope and youth such as when he meets the young boys who are marching in the streets. He feels young again and later decides to follow a young woman who he imagines as his fantasized woman.