Decision Dilemmas In Mrs. Dalloway Essay

1700 words - 7 pages

As people grow older, many feel trapped in their lives because of decisions in the past. Due to the regret in their decisions, people often become unhappy and feel stuck in the lives they have chosen. The character Clarissa in Mrs. Dalloway does just that. In novel, Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa becomes a prisoner in her adult life as a result of her upbringing, need for social status, and relationship choices she has made in the past.
Clarissa Dalloway’s childhood was the foundation on her lavish adult lifestyle. Her childhood influenced her thoughts on social class and standings. Clarissa was raised in a middle class family that always valued social status. As a child Clarissa spent a lot of time with her family. Her experiences at her Uncle William Bourton’s estate exposed Clarissa to the ideas of social norms. (2 Worster) These family influences taught social status was necessary for security and happiness in the future. Unlike most women in her era, Clarissa was aware of the lifestyle paths she could take, when most women of there time period were unaware of choices they had concerning their future lifestyle. (2 Worster ) Clarissa’s upbringing gives her the mind set that you must be rich and have social status in order to be important in life. This is later proven false in the novel, as Clarissa become evident that the comfortable and extravagant lifestyle she chose, is not all its cracked up to be. Worster shows in her literary criticism, “The Self Imprisoned Clarissa Dalloway” that Clarissa struggles with her identity due to the manipulation of truth her own mind. As “Clarissa Dalloway meagerly examines the conditions of her life and resignedly submerges herself beneath the shallow façade of the perfect housewife.”(1 Worster). Once she became married Clarissa looked back on her past often. She wondered what life would have been like had she not married Richard. For example, Clarissa now visualizes poverty as freeing and having less social values and responsibilities to take care of. When Clarissa thought back to her views on social status, she now sees how her social class choice in the past has trapped her in a lifestyle she does not enjoy.
The need for social status now has Clarissa stuck in the role of the “perfect housewife” Unsure of who she is the new Mrs. Dalloway, didn’t know what her new social status required. Gerri Kimber explains:
“Clarissa is a misfit with her social class since, although there are several references to her snobbery, she never comes to an understanding during the novel that happiness cannot be measured simply by one’s position in society but rather by and ability to see beauty in the mundane and ordinary.” (1)
Even though Clarissa was completely different to other women in her status, she attempted to fit in to her unappealing life. In “Mrs. Dalloway” Woolf states:
“She belonged to a different age, but being so entire, so complete, would always stand up on the horizon, stone-white, eminent, like a...

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