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Novel Study Essay

723 words - 3 pages

Biographical Information:
Virginia Woolf, an English novelist and essayist, was born in 1882. Affected by mental instability for most of her life, Woolf would fall into deep periods of depression after the completion of each work. As a result, many of her novels include themes about death and oppression. Her struggle with her mental illnesses became too much for her, and she eventually committed suicide in 1941, when she was 59 years old.

Author’s Style:
In Mrs. Dalloway, all of the action, aside from the flashbacks, takes place on a day in June. Woolf story tells by writing what a character is thinking at a particular moment. Because she mainly writes about a character’s thoughts, her sentences are lengthy and are sometimes interrupted by another character’s point of view. Woolf point of view of each character is sometimes written in indirect speech. She also uses unconventional punctuation when writing about a character’s thoughts.

Plot Summary:
Clarissa Dalloway, a wealthy housewife, walks through her neighborhood in London in the morning to prepare for her party. As she buys flowers, she thinks about her life as an eighteen year old, and wonders whether she made the right choices. Clarissa believes she had fallen in love with her best friend Sally, who loved adventures. She also could have married Peter Walsh, who was a risk-taker. Yet she chose the safe route and married the wealthy Richard Dalloway instead of the ambitious Peter Walsh.

Septimus Smith, a World War I veteran suffering from traumatic stress, goes to the park with his Italian wife Rezia. Septimus frequently hallucinates and talks about killing himself, greatly worrying Rezia. Later that day, Sir William Bradshaw, a man who tries to corrupt science, sends Septimus to a psychiatric hospital, where he ultimately commits suicide.

When the party begins, Clarissa feels uncertain and wonders if it will be a success. Most of the characters she has met in the book attends the party, including some from her past, such as Sally. The party represents a superficial gathering, yet demonstrates the individuality of each person. Clarissa hears about Septimus’ suicide at the party and later appreciates his decision to...

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