[Lee, 1996; p 36]
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf's fourth novel, is perhaps her first novel to reveal her mastery of the craft of novel writing. Set on a single day, the novel interweaves several narrative perspectives, organised in two parallel stories: Clarissa Dalloway's party and the suicide of her symbolic double, Septimus Warren Smith. Transiting back and forth in time and space, from interior to exterior of her central character, Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway and her double, Woolf looks at love, dreams, longings, failings, illusions, fears and frustrations in post- war London. In so doing Virginia Woolf responded to the prevailing traditions of novel writing with a 'consciously' modern novel. Discarding the usual style of time-bound story telling for a picturesque revelation of the inner thoughts and the outward expressions of her characters, Mrs Dalloway fulfils Woolf's demand of a novel as suggested in her essay 'Modern Fiction,' "Look within andexaminean ordinary mind on an ordinary day to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its messages through the brain." [Woolf, 1919; p. 106]
Mrs. Dalloway begins when Mrs. ...
Henceforth, Woolf's narrative shifts back and forth between the story of Clarissa party and the story of Septimus' suicide that evening. Studying Woolf's modernist fictions John Mepham comments, "For many readers, the most puzzling aspect of Mrs. Dalloway is that it tells two unconnected stories It is as if characters from two different stories have become jumbled up by mistake" [Mepham, 1991; p.97]
Yet, for Woolf, the discreet connection of her central characters, though she had fears that her novel may seem disjointed because the scenes weren't connecting well, [Mepham, 1991; p.97] was definite and well weighed: "Suppose to be connected in this way: Mrs D seeing the truth, S seeing the insane truth" [Cited Mepham, 1991; p. 94] Following the inner world of her apparently alien and separated characters Woolf silently draws parallels between her two distinctly placed characters in gender and status, connecting them to the readers through a stream of their consciousness to the imageries such as exciting airplane writing in the sky overhead, the terrifying sound of a motorcar, and the tick of the Big Ben clock as it strikes the hour. Even as the novel seems disjointed, E.M Forster suggests the inevitable speculation on whether "the societified lady and the obscure maniac are in a sense the same person," [Forster, 1967; p.124] perhaps a dual representation of Woolf herself.
As an ordinary upper class woman, Mrs. Dalloway prefers the conventional choices in life. Clarissa's marriage to Richard Dalloway, an insipid Conservative Member of Parliament isn't ideal in any romantic sense and is influenced by her desire for stability in life. She had refused to marry Peter Walsh, her ex-lover, because she thought him to pompously unconventional, to