Literature Between Wars
Critical Commentary of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’
The very first sentence in this extract gives an insight into how Woolf has set to present her main character, Clarissa as someone who is lighthearted and somewhat pretentious, as she concerns herself with such a trivial matter as buying flowers for her upcoming party. Claiming that she will buy the flowers herself and alleviate the burden of her servant Lucy who has enough to do, it is also ironic that the gravity of the work only consists of buying flowers. This provides readers with a hint of Woolf’s underlying theme of superficiality of the people in Clarissa’s social circle, including herself as she clearly shows her vainness in thinking that her effort was even worth considering helpful.
In the third paragraph, readers hear short exclamations from Clarissa’s heart, as she expresses the recollections of her past in an exciting tone, illustrating how she is embracing the moment of her youth. Woolf’s choice of diction to render Clarissa’s thoughts of her life back in her younger days is also worth noting. She uses words in a similar lexical field like ‘plunge’, ‘fresh’ and ‘wave’ which are all related to an image of the sea. In my opinion, the vocabulary chosen by Woolf gives a significant effect, creating an image of a person diving into the sea for a swim. This can then be identified with Clarissa’s act of almost plunging into life itself, as consolidated by her thoughts of opening French windows and bursting into the open air, which can then be paralleled to her act of plunging into her own memory of her past. This mental imagery created by Woolf portrays her technique of exploring her characters’ memories in order to explain and reveal how they came to be who they are now.
Woolf’s signature style in her writing also includes her use of ‘a stream of consciousness’ style in her narrative, through the use of an ‘interior...
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