Monthly Archives: October 2014

Lady Bruton’s Impatience


“She was getting impatient; the whole of her being was setting positively, undeniably, domineeringly brushing her aside all this unnecessary trifling (Peter Walsh and his affairs) upon that subject which engaged her attention, and not merely her attention, but that fibre which was the ramrod of her soul, the essential part of her without which Millicent Bruton would not have been Millicent Bruton; that project for emigrating young people of both sexes born of respectable parents and setting them up with a fair prospect of doing well in Canada. She exaggerated. She and perhaps lost her sense of proportion” (108-9).

In this passage the extent of Lady Bruton’s impatience for Hugh Whitebread is expressed by explaining how her impatience let her be successful in the past, and constructs who she is today. This impatience, which is suggested to be a feeling of sublime impatience, was so powerful that she was able to conduct the emigration project. Considering Lady Bruton’s ratio of patience to impatience, her “sense of proportion” is like that of a crazy person.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.108-9


One Sentence Impact

“Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”

Woolf, Virginia.  Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt, 1925.

This one sentence does not appear to be very important. However, it is important to note that Clarissa is going by herself instead of sending someone else, like a servant, to complete the task. I also noted that she is “Mrs. Dalloway” here. Her proper name.

shifting in and out of Focus

“Gently the yellow curtain with all the birds of Paradise blew out and it seemed as if there were a flight of wings into the room, right out and then sucked back. (For the windows were open.)”

Woolf, V. (1925). Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co. p.164

The narration fades in and out of consciousness to focus on different aspects of what is gong on. A detail so minute as flowers flying in the wind is enhanced into focus to show the everyday lives of people in a time where much larger events are going on around the world.This relates to Woolf’s unit of analysis of the individual as being modern.

Woolf through Peter Walsh

“… there was design, art, everywhere; a change of some sort had undoubtedly taken place.  What did the young people think about?  Peter Walsh asked himself.  Those five years — 1918 to 1923 — had been, he suspected, somehow very important.  People looked different.  Newspapers seemed different.” (71).

It’s important to pay attention to the time period mentioned here.  In 1918, World War I ends, and Woolf is 36 years old, and questioning post-war youth.  In 1922 she has an affair with another woman, Vita Sackville-West.  It’s almost obvious that Peter Walsh’s fear of romantic commitment stems from Woolf’s personal life, and possibly an outlet for pent up frustration.

Woolf, Virginia.  Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt, 1925.

Woolf’s syntax

“But, thank you, Lucy, oh, thank you,” said Mrs. Dalloway, and thank you, thank you, she went on saying (sitting down on the sofa with her dress over her knees, her scissors, her silks), thank you, thank you, she went on saying in gratitude to her servants generally for helping her to be like this, to be what she wanted, gentle, generous-hearted. Her servants liked her. And then this dress of hers – where was the tear? and now her needle to be threaded. This was a favourite dress, one of Sally Parker’s the last almost she ever made, alas, for Sally had now retired, living at Ealing, and if ever I have a moment, thought Clarissa (but never would she have a moment any more), I shall go and see her at Ealing.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. p.38

In this particular example, one can see how Woolf uses syntax to reflect Clarissa’s character. Clarissa is shown here to be vivacious as she thanks the servants numerous times. Also, the way she moves from one idea to the next (the dress to Sally Parker), it shows the quickness to her thinking. The language of this paragraph (the sound of it) shows the liveliness in her thinking and the positive energy she is trying to maintain in her life.

Time and youth

“But she feared time itself and read on Lady Bruton’s face, as if it had been a dial cut in impassive stone, the dwindling life; how year by year her share was sliced; how little the margin that remained was capable any longer stretching of absorbing, as in  the youthful years, the colors, salts, tone of existence, so that she filled the room as she entered and felt often as she stood hesitating one moment on the threshold of her drawing-room, an exquisite suspense…”(30).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. p.30

We see time become a key important theme within the novel and it is interesting to see that she referring to Clarissa who fears time itself, but yet time goes slow throughout the novel which makes it quite ironic. She sees her life dwindling down and she does not want it to end since she wants to feel the youthful years once again. Woolf uses strong diction to describe youth like tone of existence and colors since young people are usually filled with life while older women feel the color fades and grows quite hesitant.

Stream of Consciousness and Memories in Mrs. Dalloway

“There was Regent’s Park.  Yes.  As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought.  They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).


Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.

Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes.  As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.

Woolf’s Language/Technique

“The Lord had shown her the way. So now, whenever the hot and painful feelings bolded within her, this hatred of Mrs. Dalloway, this grudge against the world, she thought of God. She thought of Mr. Whittaker. Rage was succeeded by calm. A sweet savor filled her veins, her lips parted, and, standing formidable upon the landing in her mackintosh, she looked with steady and sinister serenity at Mrs. Dalloway, who came out with her daughter.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print.

In this passage, Clarissa’s internal distress fuels a range of metaphors, from the “hot and painful feelings” she experiences, to the “sweet savor [that fills] her veins.” However, Woolf’s ability to emphasize emotions comes at the cost of dragging them out in text, arguably, through awkward phrasing. Really, “steady and sinister serenity”? Is that not a little much?

Feeling Old

“She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs Richard Dalloway”.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print.

Throughout Mrs. Dalloway, there is sense of society and class. Clarissa holds herself with high morals from the start of the book and you can feel the high classiness coming off her. In this quote you see Clarissa doubting herself, wishing to be young again. Her youth is behind her and she is no longer known as a beautiful maiden; she is known as Mrs. Richard Dalloway. She may be upper class but she can never regain her youth.