Part 1

On a summer morning, Clarissa Dalloway, a politician's middle-aged wife, goes out to buy flowers for her party that evening. Walking around London, she thinks about the war, family, friends, illness, death, and her image; runs into her friend Hugh; and sees a car with an illustrious person in it. As a plane writes something in the sky above a park, Lucrezia, married to Septimus, a veteran suffering from shell shock, worries about him and misses her country, Italy.

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Part 2

Back home, Clarissa learns that Lady Bruton invited her husband, Richard, for lunch. She contemplates her bedroom, thinks about her friend Sally, starts mending her party dress, and is unexpectedly visited by her friend Peter, whose proposal she once rejected. He says he's in love with a married Indian woman and cries. As Clarissa comforts him, her daughter, Elizabeth, comes in. Peter runs out of Clarissa’s house.

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Part 3

After Peter leaves Clarissa, he wanders thinking about her behavior, India, his failures, and Elizabeth. He observes some young soldiers, statues of famous men, and a rich girl entering a house. He follows a young woman on the street. In Regent's Park, he sits near a nurse and a baby, smokes, sleeps, and dreams. Then he recalls the summer at Clarissa's family estate, Bourton, when she met Richard and rejected him.

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Part 4

In the park, Peter walks past Lucrezia and Septimus and thinks about Sally's hatred of Hugh, Richard's and Clarissa's personalities, and his love for Daisy. Lucrezia thinks about her suffering because of her husband's illness. Septimus hallucinates as she takes him to see the psychiatrist Sir Bradshaw, recommended by their physician, Dr. Holmes. We learn about Septimus's past as a poet, clerk, and soldier, whose problems start after his friend Evan dies in the war.

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Part 5

Sir Bradshaw, a rich and celebrated self-made psychiatrist, examines Septimus, considers his case very grave, and tells Lucrezia he should be taken to one of the doctor's homes in the country for treatment. Lucrezia doesn't like Bradshaw and cries as they leave his office.

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Part 6

Hugh and Richard have lunch with Lady Bruton, who asks for their help with a letter to the Times about her cause. After lunch, Richard buys roses for Clarissa. He surprises her with the flowers but doesn't say he loves her, as he intended. They talk about family, friends, and the party. Before leaving for work, Richard sets Clarissa up for a rest. She concludes she likes parties because she loves life.

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Part 7

Elizabeth goes to a store with her history tutor, Miss Kilman, who feels discriminated, hates Clarissa, adores Elizabeth, and has recently become religious. She buys a petticoat, eats greedily when they have tea together, then prays at Westminster Abbey. Elizabeth leaves the store on her own, takes a random bus, feels free like a pirate, walks around a busy working-class area, thinks she wants to have a profession, and then takes a bus home.

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Part 8

Happy, Septimus helps Lucrezia redesign a hat, reads the paper as she plays with a girl, then sleeps and wakes up feeling alone. Lucrezia recalls the first time she saw him. He asks her to burn the papers with his ideas, but she keeps them. As she goes downstairs to prevent Dr. Holmes from coming up, Septimus jumps out the window. After Lucrezia sees his body, Dr. Holmes gives her a sedative.

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Part 9

Peter hears an ambulance, recalls conversations with Clarissa, and considers her influence on his life. Then he gets annoyed by a letter she just sent. He sees a photo of Daisy and thinks about their relationship. After dinner, he talks to a middle-class family, then sits in front of the hotel reading the paper and watching young people. He walks to Clarissa's house, enjoying life, then opens his pocketknife and enters the party.

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Part 10

The servants make last-minute preparations. Clarissa welcomes the guests and fears the party will be a failure. Their friend Sally arrives unexpectedly, the Prime Minister comes, and Peter talks to old friends. The Bradshaws tell Clarissa about Septimus's suicide, upsetting her. She goes into a room alone, thinks about Septimus, and watches her old neighbor through a window. At the end of the party, Sally leaves, and Peter feels terrified and excited as Clarissa reappears.

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