London as setting for “Mrs. Dalloway” Essay Sample

”When a adult male is tired of London. he is tired of life ; for there is in London all that life can afford. ” –Samuel Johnson

In “Mrs. Dalloway” . Virginia Woolf uses the scene of the metropolis of London to efficaciously demo the immensely different emotional responses of the characters. The metropolis of London. in June. is the primary location in which three of the novel’s characters are placed ; although they inhabit the same period of clip. they display wholly different responses. The supporter. Clarissa Dalloway. enjoys the experience from her place of privilege and comfort. Septimus Warren Smith. by contrast. is being swallowed up by the metropolis since he is in the deepnesss of shell-shocked depression ; he contemplates suicide because he can non get by with life as he perceives it in London. Peter Walsh. who has late returned to London after an absence of five old ages. is give uping himself to the sights. sounds. and general ambiance of the metropolis in a insouciant blithe mode as one does who is unburdened by the attentions of life. Woolf uses the metropolis of London as a accelerator and focal point of these characters’ lives. which all intersect. straight or indirectly. at the terminal of the twenty-four hours at Clarissa’s party.

The busy streets of London on a fresh June forenoon provide the perfect scene for Clarissa Dalloway’s free-flowing ideas as she sets off to purchase the flowers for her party. Clarissa is so seduced by her milieus. the traffic. the people all engaged in their ain chases. that she allows her ideas to flux freely over her experiences during her youth spent at Bourton. London is a comfy topographic point for Clarissa. and she merely ”loves walking in London” ( 6 ) . as she declares to her old friend. Hugh Whitbread. Her life of comfort and privilege affords her the luxury to merely delight in her journey through London’s streets while she contemplates readyings for her party. Indeed. to Clarissa. the ”divine vitality” ( 7 ) of the streets of London is so euphoric that her experience occurs on a strictly superficial degree. She is unaffected by the cryptic Grey auto with its ”air of cryptic reserve” ( 17 ) that is the topic of guess by all who see it. The skywriting plane is besides pulling attending throughout London. yet Clarissa ne’er even looks up.

By contrast. Septimus Smith’s responses to the scene of London’s streets are wholly different from Clarissa’s. He has returned from the war. is being treated for shell daze. and is caught in a downward spiral of depression. In his delicate mental status. Septimus is afraid. incoherent. and threatened by his milieus. The Grey auto that so fascinates the people on the street and is hardly acknowledged by Clarissa. is seen as a menace to Septimus ; he sees it as a representation of himself blockading traffic. and is terrified by his reading of the form on its drapes as ”the gradual pulling together of everything to one centre before his eyes” ( 16 ) . Clearly. Septimus’s psychosis has eventually isolated him from world as he no longer sees normal things in the same manner as the other citizens on the streets.

Yet a different set of responses is evoked in Peter Walsh as he finds himself on the same streets of London. He is more interested in ”the province of he world” ( 7 ) than in the physical furnishings of the metropolis. As he walks towards Regent’s Park. Peter admirations about the mechanics and gasolene ingestion of the autos ; he surmises about the lives of the immature soldiers processing past him and is reminded of his ain age. Peter Walsh’s brief minute of melancholia is rapidly replaced by ”exquisite delight” ( 57 ) at the release of his head to experience immature once more. The ambiance induces Peter to move in a unworried mode by following a immature lady through the streets and fantasying about an brush with her in his anon. individuality of ”you” . Peter’s self-absorption and immatureness are apparent in this type of behavior.

While London’s streets are busy. crowded. and feverish. the scene of Regent’s Park is merely another way to a finish for Clarissa. However. it is a topographic point fraught with menace and persecution for Septimus. and a pleasant interlude for Peter. Clarissa seems unaffected by the repose of the park. except for a casual recognition of ”the silence ; the mist ; the busyness ; the slow-swimming happy ducks ; the pouched birds waddling” ( 5 ) . She is more interested in the societal brush with her old friend. Hugh Whitbread. and what he may believe of her and the chapeau she is have oning. Hugh’s presence in the park reminds her of happier times at Bourton where they spent considerable clip together on the lawns and gardens.

Conversely. Septimus finds himself in this same peaceable scene. yet he is tormented by his reading of the ordinary activities of the people in the park. As the injured. shell-shocked war veteran. he contemplates suicide while floating in and out of clarity as he is caught in a downward spiral of depression. The normal. mundane life in Regent’s Park feeds his psychosis to the point where he sees everything as a menace to him. Septimus experiences hallucinations of trees being alive and connected to him ”by 1000000s of fibres” ( 24 ) ; birds singing to him in Greek ; a Canis familiaris turning into a adult male ; promises of beauty from the fume of the sky-writing program. and finally. Peter Walsh looking to take the signifier of Septimus’ friend. Evans. who was killed in the war. Despite the intercession of his married woman and physicians. Septimus is unable to bear life as he perceives it ; he is swallowed up by London. and finally commits suicide.

In every bit much as Clarissa and Peter are similar in personality. are in melody with each other’s ideas. and portion so much of their vernal memories and experiences. Peter’s clip in Regent’s Park has a really different consequence on him than Clarissa’s experience in Regent’s Park. The idyllic scene provides a perfect foil for him. He is wholly seduced by the repose ; he smokes a cigar and is lulled into a province of entire relaxation. finally falling asleep. His dreams are of a lone traveller rolling through a wood. which is symbolic of his life. Peter is in a province of entire relaxation. and merely taste all that Regent’s Park offers. Besides. we his life traversing that of Septimus’ once more when he witnesses the difference between Septimus and his married woman. Lucrezia.

London’s celebrated landmark. Large Ben. adds yet another dimension to the puting chosen by Woolf. The three characters. Clarissa. Septimus. and Peter are connected in clip and scene by the sound of Big Ben. Clarissa is cognizant of clip go throughing merely as a reminder of her nearing party ; Septimus ignores the hours marked as he is now out of clip. and Peter is go oning to blow clip as he has ever done. The bells of this clock grade clip for the characters in Mrs. Dalloway for really different grounds. Clarissa is cognizant of ”the dull circles [ fade outing ] in the air” ( 4 ) merely as a reminder of clip go throughing until her party around which her twenty-four hours revolves. Although the ”leaden circles” are heard all over London. Septimus is unmindful to the sound or even to the significance of the bells. Peter. interim. is besides reminded of the party merely by the association to Big Ben’s chimes to Clarissa’s separating words to him ”Remember my party” ( 52 ) as he leaves her house after his visit that forenoon.

Throughout this eventual twenty-four hours in London. the lives of Clarissa Dalloway. Septimus Warren Smith. and Peter Walsh intersect in the streets. the Parks. and the sounds of the metropolis. Clarissa starts her walk thought ” [ w ] hat a lark! What a Plunge” ( 3 ) this experience is. whereas Septimus ” [ cracks ] himself smartly. violently” ( 164 ) to his decease at the terminal of the twenty-four hours. Peter Walsh casually meanders through London and is straight linked to Clarissa by his attending at her party. Septimus’ indirect presence at the party is noticeable by the impact his self-destruction has on Clarissa. Woolf has employed a watercourse of consciousness technique to joint the ideas and feelings of these three characters by taking us inside their heads while puting them in a common scene.

We about see and hear their ideas and responses and clearly understand how the human status varies from one character to the following. Although the scene of London is changeless. we see each of the characters reacting to his or her ain life experiences. Virginia Woolf uses the metropolis of London with its streets. Parkss. and sounds as a agency of uniting the secret plan in Mrs. Dalloway by crossing the lives of Clarissa. Septimus. and Peter throughout the twenty-four hours. As the togss of their lives are woven in and out of a common environment. we see a rich tapestry of life in London from the point of position of these three disparate characters.