Art as Indictment: Social Criticism in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway
In any story, conflict is vital. It drives forth plot and reveals truths about the characters involved, keeping readers engaged. It also reflects the world of its writer, who often uses conflict as a tool to illustrate personal ideas. This is particularly true in the case of early twentieth-century writer Virginia Woolf. Throughout her most famous novel, Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf draws readers into several different interpersonal conflicts, each of which involves a clash between English conventions and undeniable human conditions. Portraying these conflicts with keen sensitivity to injustice, folly, and ignorance, Woolf criticizes England's traditional social system as a world in which people cannot acknowledge, confront, or understand what may disturb their comfort.
Through the conflict between half-crazed World War I veteran Septimus Warren Smith and his prominent doctor, Sir William Bradshaw, Woolf highlights one of the English system's most tragic failures: its tendency to isolate "undesirables" at any cost to human dignity. Septimus finds himself desensitized after fighting in the Great War and utterly unable to return to daily life, where empathy is a vital quality rather than a hindrance. Incapable of...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 945 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7609 literature essays, 2155 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in