Feminism in 'Mrs. Dalloway'

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Feminism in 'Mrs. Dalloway'

By | October 2010
Page 1 of 4
Feminism in Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf is one of the greatest writers whose works reflect her philosophy of life and identification of women. She grew up with an intense interest in the feminist question, and her novels hold the key to the meaning of life and the position of women in the existing patriarchal society. She portrays the impact of the patriarchal English society on women’s lives, the loneliness and frustration of women’s lives that had been shaped by the moral, ideological and conventional factors.

Mrs. Dalloway, regarded as a masterpiece of Virginia Woolf, is a novel riddled with themes. Woolf has much to say about society and the post-war changes but a steady underlying theme in the book is feminism, the roles of women of that period and their seeming insignificance. Basically it is the character of Clarissa Dalloway, her relation with Sally Seton, and other women characters, Miss Kilman, Lucrezia Warren, who are also clustered around Clarissa in different contexts of the novel, through which Woolf reveals the physical as well as the psychological world of womanhood – their dilemmas, subjectivity, sexuality and conditioning in the traditional patriarchal society.

Woolf fought for women’s individual identity, privacy and freedom in the male dominated society. These views bloom in the novel Mrs. Dalloway. The relationship between Clarissa and Peter underwent a constant tension between love and freedom. Clarissa though craved for love and to be loved, she also wanted privacy and independence of her own. She wanted to preserve her virginity and equated it with freedom as result of an aggressive society where women were snubbed and despised. So, instead of Peter she chose to marry Richard because she thought Peter would not give the kind of freedom which was essential for her happiness. Again, Peter couldn’t understand the importance of her emotional need. So, Clarissa thought if she would marry Peter, he would have engulfed her and forced her...