The physical and social setting in "Mrs. Dalloway" sets the mood for the novel's principal theme: the theme of social oppression. Social oppression was shown in two ways: the oppression of women as English society returned to its traditional norms and customs after the war, and the oppression of the hard realities of life, "concealing" these realities with the elegance of English society. This paper discusses the purpose of the city in mirroring the theme of social oppression, focusing on issues of gender oppression, particularly against women, and the oppression of poverty and class discrimination between London's peasants and the elite class. The theme of oppression against women in Clarissa Dalloway's society is very common among English literary texts set in the 20th century ( ). However, more than just an illustration of oppression against women, "Mrs. Dalloway" also highlights how oppression is deeply embedded in the English psyche that it became an acceptable and expected behavior among the English people. In the novel, oppression has become a way of life for Clarissa. After the War, she has intentionally chosen to live her life as a wife of a member of the government, and gracious hostess to her friends and elite English society. Her choice of lifestyle is also a sign of her choice to marry Richard Dalloway instead of her former boyfriend Peter Walsh. Clarissa's choice demonstrates how deeply-rooted her awareness is to her English society: "
what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab. Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here, there, she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at...
Cited: Goldman, Jane. "The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf: Modernism, Post- Impressionism and the Politics of the Visual". Cambridge, U.K., New York, NY: Cambridge, 1998. 100-115.
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