Mrs. Dalloway

An Unlikely Pair: The Comparative Consequences of Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith in Mrs. Dalloway College

In lieu of an action-packed or scandalous plot line, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway takes a more subtle and psychological mode to ensnare its reader, one of course meant to depart from the strict Victorian and Edwardian novels that preceded it. This modernist form of narration, which pays much more attention to the inner-workings of character than to the construction of a typical plot, takes into account the inherent subjectivity of audience. To expand, Woolf, in her essay “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” opposes Arnold Bennett’s belief, “that is only if the characters are real that the novel has any chance of surviving,” by asking her reader to consider, “what is reality?” (Woolf, 749). In her opinion, there is no one true reality, but rather infinite ones that are defined by the subjective interpretations of the individual: “A character may be real to Mr. Bennett and quite unreal to me. For instance, in this article he says that Dr. Watson in Sherlock Homes is real to him: to me, Dr. Watson is a sack stuffed with straw, a dummy, a figure of fun (749).” This emphasis on subjectivity—and its consequential inattention to objective reality—no doubt comes to fruition in Mrs. Dalloway, in which Woolf allots each character his or her...

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