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Contents

Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Mrs. Dalloway

author ·  Virginia Woolf

type of work ·  Novel

genre · Modernist; formalist; feminist

language ·  English

time and place written · Woolf began Mrs. Dalloway in Sussex in 1922 and completed the novel in London in 1924.

date of first publication ·  May 14, 1925

publisher · Hogarth Press, the publishing house created by Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1917

narrator · Anonymous. The omniscient narrator is a commenting voice who knows everything about the characters. This voice appears occasionally among the subjective thoughts of characters. The critique of Sir William Bradshaw’s reverence of proportion and conversion is the narrator’s most sustained appearance.

point of view · Point of view changes constantly, often shifting from one character’s stream of consciousness (subjective interior thoughts) to another’s within a single paragraph. Woolf most often uses free indirect discourse, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person singular pronouns (he and she). This technique ensures that transitions between the thoughts of a large number of characters are subtle and smooth.

tone · The narrator is against the oppression of the human soul and for the celebration of diversity, as are the book’s major characters. Sometimes the mood is humorous, but an underlying sadness is always present.

tense · Though mainly in the immediate past, Peter’s dream of the solitary traveler is in the present tense.

setting (time) ·  A day in mid-June, 1923. There are many flashbacks to a summer at Bourton in the early 1890s, when Clarissa was eighteen.

setting (place) · London, England. The novel takes place largely in the affluent neighborhood of Westminster, where the Dalloways live.

protagonist ·  Clarissa Dalloway

major conflict · Clarissa and other characters try to preserve their souls and communicate in an oppressive and fragmentary post–World War I England.

rising action · Clarissa spends the day organizing a party that will bring people together, while her double, Septimus Warren Smith, eventually commits suicide due to the social pressures that oppress his soul.

climax · At her party, Clarissa goes to a small room to contemplate Septimus’s suicide. She identifies with him and is glad he did it, believing that he preserved his soul.

falling action · Clarissa returns to her party and is viewed from the outside. We do not know whether she will change due to her moment of clarity, but we do know that she will endure.

themes · Communication vs. privacy; disillusionment with the British Empire; the fear of death; the threat of oppression

motifs · Time; Shakespeare; trees and flowers; waves and water

symbols · The prime minister; Peter Walsh’s pocketknife and other weapons; the old woman in the window; the old woman singing an ancient song

foreshadowing

 · At the opening of the novel, Clarissa recalls having a premonition one June day at Bourton that “something awful was about to happen.” This sensation anticipates Septimus’s suicide.
 · Peter thinks of Clarissa when he wakes up from his nap in Regent’s Park and considers how she has the gift of making the world her own and standing out among a crowd. Peter states simply, “there she was,” a line he will repeat as the last line of the novel, when Clarissa appears again at her party.

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Narrative Voice

by MLangeroodi, April 08, 2013

Hey, I wrote this essay in my first year at university. Follow the link!

http://marnielangeroodiblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/narrative-voice-in-mrs-dalloway/

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3 out of 3 people found this helpful

Disgusting!

by RabbieBurns39, March 10, 2014

I would like to say how disgusted i am that you would allow this to be published, the numerous references to the BRITISH empire as 'England' is countless. Not only did Welsh citizens give their life, but Scottish and even Irish citizens who were die hard nationalists and wishing to be made independent from Britain fought in the Great War and many lost their lives doing so to. I am horrified this has been allowed to stay up and request amendments to be made.

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2 out of 18 people found this helpful

Helpuful

by HeulynTheUnicat, April 27, 2014

I'm stydying for an oral exam, and it's nice to have these informations. I remembered most of the characters form reading the books, of course, but what I found really interesting were the comparisons with other characters. But I do think Elizabeth is missing as one of the main characters, since she has quite an important role in the novel, too.

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