Mrs. Dalloway Themes

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Clarissa Dalloway was strongly attracted to Sally at Bourton -- twenty years later, she still considers the kiss they shared to be the happiest moment of her life. She feels about women "as men feel" (from "Mrs Dalloway", Penguin Popular Classics 1996, page 36)[citation needed], but she does not recognize these feelings as signs of homosexuality. She and Sally fell a little behind. Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a stone urn with flowers in it Sally stopped; picked a flower; kiss her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally. And she felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it - a diamond, something infinitely precious, wrapped up, which, as they walked (up and down, up and down), she uncovered, or the radiance burnt through, the revelation, the religious feeling! (Woolf, 36) Septimus Smith might also be gay. He obsesses over the fallen Evans, he feels no real love for his wife, and his sense of guilt has elements in common with homosexual panic. Doris Kilman could also be seen as gay, for her affinity to Mrs. Dalloway's daughter Elizabeth.


As a commentary on inter-war society, Clarissa's character highlights the role of women as the proverbial "Angel in the House" and embodies both sexual and economic repression. She keeps up with and even embraces the social expectations of the wife of a politician, but she is still able to express herself in the parties she throws. Sally Seton, who Clarissa admires dearly, is remembered as a great independent woman: she smoked cigars, once ran down a corridor naked to fetch her sponge-bag, and made bold, unladylike statements to get a reaction from people. When Clarissa meets her in the present day, she turns out to be a perfect housewife, having married a rich man and had five sons.

Mental illness

Septimus, as the...
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