It is a novel that deals with various topics, including feminism and madness, the first of them in the character of Clarissa and the second in Septimus Warren Smith.
Clarissa is the character that denotes women, their sexual and economic repression. Septimus is the hero who comes with traumas of a war and who arrives to criticize madness and depression.
Virginia Woolf addresses in this book the medical discourse of how Septimus is deteriorating and how it ends up committing suicide. In a way, it represents the life of the writer who had to fight against a manic depression that made her listen to bird songs, and that would also lead her to a suicide attempt, throwing herself through a window.
The character is like an autobiography of the writer, and the novel can also serve as a theme to talk about colonialism, commercialism and medicine, feminism, bisexuality, and even politics.
His narrative is the sequence of a single day in the life of this woman, which takes place in June. The author is a modern woman who manages to narrate Clarissa’s past and her memories through Bourton, where she lived as a young woman before becoming Mrs Dalloway.
The novel passes from past to present through memories, all of them in a single day of life. The resource used by Virginia Woolf is to let the character’s consciousness and thoughts flow.
In some scenes, several points of view can be detailed, the speech is direct and then indirect and alternates descriptive narratives and comments of an omniscient narrator. It also uses interior monologues.
The story begins with Clarissa Dalloway during a day in June 1923, who takes a tour of London in the morning, in order to prepare everything for a party she has at night. Here he reflects on his decision to marry, since he married the confident Richard Dalloway instead of the strange but at the same time demanding Peter Walsh.
Septimus Warren Smith was a World War I veteran and suffered from traumatic stress due to the death of his great friend Evans in the war. One day he was with his Italian wife Lucrezia, and they realize that Peter Walsh, a former lover of Clarissa, is watching them. Septimus constantly has hallucinations about his dear friend Evans. Once the involuntary commitment is assigned to a psychiatric hospital, life is taken by jumping out the window.
At night, during the party Clarissa had planned, many important people, including people from her past, are introduced. She hears about Septimus’s suicide at the party and can slowly admire the act of this being, which she considers an effort to preserve the purity of her happiness.
The plot of the work
The plot of the novel is everything that happens in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in a single day in which she prepares a party. The hours go by and are shown through the bells of Big Ben. Clarissa Dalloway is a perfect hostess, and her own servants, her daughter, and her husband and that pretender of the past which she rejected and has not been able to forget.
Apparently, she is a perfect woman, and she enjoys that condition, but she herself questions herself internally about her lack of more spiritual feelings and her aversion to them. Virginia Wolf managed to make a work of fiction, with an established structure full of idioms that manage to give more resources to speech and how to use the narrative.
Its composition and how the day goes by Clarissa sees directly her memories and recognitions that manage to capture the essence of thought and feeling in a given period. The party that Clarissa is going to give is to celebrate her husband’s prestige in politics, a man who has come to parliament, is also a tribute for what Clarissa herself fascinates.
Clarissa is a woman who feels hate for what is ugly and what is exaggerated. She is a woman without feelings and full of vanity. But at the same time, it is so bright that it manages to remain forever in the mind.
The novel has nine characters that are of interest in the development of the same, which are close to the life of the main character, so they are:
Clarissa Dalloway: a middle-aged woman, who is married to Richard and they have a daughter named Elizabeth. She will remember her past while making preparations for a party that will be held at night; she is a society woman in postwar London.
Sir William Bradshaw: he is a psychiatrist who takes care of Septimus, he was referred by Dr. Holmes to point out to Sir William that he has nervous breakdowns and that he must spend time in London to heal.
Elizabeth Dalloway: the daughter of Clarissa and Richard, she is 17 years old, has oriental features, and a great figure. He likes politics and modern history, he wants to be a doctor or farmer, he likes the field where he usually is with his father than at the party his mother is going to give.
Richard Dalloway: Clarissa’s husband is a practical and simple man who has no connection with his wife and has a job in government.
Miss Kilman: her real last name was Kihlman. She is Elizabeth’s teacher, who gives the chair of history and is a new christian. In the events of the Great War (World War I), she was fired from her job since they thought she would be in a place where she had more happiness to share her opinions about the Germans. She comes from Germany and likes to dress her way so as not to please other people, she doesn’t like Clarissa, but Elizabeth does.
Sally Seton: at one time, it was Clarissa’s love interest, with her she got to kiss. She married Lord Rosseter, and they already have 5 offspring. The relationship with his family was very tense, so he spent time with Clarissa’s family when they were young. She is a woman who has fought, but with age has become a conventional woman.
Lucrezia Smith: they call her Rezia, she is a woman who was born in Italy and married Septimus, over time her wife’s mental insanity is wearing her out, and she feels pointed out for that reason. He misses his family and his country of origin, which he left to marry Septimus when the first war ended.
Septimus Warren Smith: he was a veteran of the first war who has a state of concussion and is hallucinating with a friend who died in the war, Evans. A man of good education who received a decoration of war is separated from society and believes that he no longer has feelings. He is married to Lucrezia, although he has distanced himself from her.
Peter Walsh: one of Clarissa’s old friends who has had many adventures in his life and none has paid off, he wanted to marry Clarissa, but he refused, he has returned from India and is invited to the big party.
Hugh Whitbread: is one of Clarissa’s friends, who has a position in the house of British royalty, but who does not know what it is. He believes that the position in society is important, as is Clarissa. But the truth is that Clarissa thinks she is a detestable person. Another work that may interest you is The Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende.