Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. “Fear no more the heat ’o the sun / Nor the furious winter’s rages” is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Cymbeline. The words are repeated or alluded to many times throughout Mrs. Dalloway, by both Clarissa and Septimus. What do the words mean, and why do Clarissa and Septimus repeat them?
2. Woolf created Septimus Warren Smith as a double for Clarissa. In what ways are Clarissa and Septimus different? In what ways are they the same?
3. Conversion is seen as a constant threat in the novel. Which characters wish to convert others, and what are they trying to convert others to? Are some characters more susceptible to conversion than others?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Mrs. Dalloway is constructed from many different points of view, and points of view are sometimes linked by an emotion, a sound, a visual image, or a memory. Describe three instances when the point of view changes and explain how Woolf accomplishes the transitions. How do the transitions correspond to the points of view being connected?
2. Flowers, gardens, and nature are important motifs in the novel. Choose three characters and describe their relationships to the natural world. What do these relationships reveal about the characters or their functions in the novel?
3. Characters in the novel come from a range of social classes. What does Peter mean when he feels the “pyramidal accumulation” that weighed on his generation is shifting? How did the old social order weigh particularly heavily on women?
4. What role does Sally Seton play in Clarissa’s life, and what is the significance of her surprise appearance at the party?
5. World War I affected all the characters in the book to some degree. How did the war influence at least three of the characters?
6. The multitude of minor characters in the novel can be compared to the chorus in a classical Greek drama. They are often observers in the street. Choose three or four minor characters and describe their roles. What is their importance to the novel as a whole?
7. When Clarissa reflects on Septimus’s death at the end of the novel, she experiences a moment of being, or an epiphany. What truth becomes clear to her, and why is it significant?
by MLangeroodi, April 08, 2013
Hey, I wrote this essay in my first year at university. Follow the link!