Mrs. Dalloway

The Reality of Relationships: A Close Reading of Peter Walsh College

“There was a dignity about her. She was not worldly, like Clarissa; not rich, like Clarissa. Was she, he wondered as she moved, respectable? Witty, with a lizard’s flickering tongue, he thought (for one must invent, must allow oneself a little diversion)...He pursued; she changed. There was colour in her cheeks; mockery in her eyes” (Woolf 53).

As William Shakespeare wrote in his play Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves”. Many play up fate or look to a higher being when a relationship falls to shambles; it takes insight and awareness to realize one is responsible for these issues. Peter Walsh returns from India in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, persistent in claiming that he no longer loves Clarissa Dalloway. However, he spends the entirety of the trip mulling over the their relationship. Although it is easy for Peter to blame Clarissa’s shallow nature for the breakup, he must realize she is not solely at fault for her marrying another man.

Peter projects his fantasies upon the woman he encounters and follows through the streets of London. The assumed qualities Peter gives the woman are drawn from features both lacking and present in Clarissa, thus creating an ideal woman. “There was...

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