Mrs. Dalloway: Septimus and the War

This week we talked in particular about Septimus in the passages on page 68ff., 84ff., 90ff., and 136ff. And then there’s Septimus’s suicide, on page 144-46. We also talked more generally about reminders of war, a theme that returns in many passages. Use this post to add follow-up comments or to point out things we missed!

5 thoughts on “Mrs. Dalloway: Septimus and the War

  1. This comment is from Matt! Due to technical difficulties he couldn’t post under his name. Enjoy!

    “Blame the sickness, but I couldn’t really talk too much in class today. I did manage to croak out this point, however, and I’d love to get back to it: In “Mrs. Dalloway” Virginia Woolf divided her original intention for the main character into two separate beings, Septimus and the published version of Clarissa Dalloway.

    Now, using only textual criticism, a reader can draw plenty of connections between the war-torn Septimus and the introversive Dalloway. With Woolf’s explanation that she intended to kill off Dalloway and not create Septimus, however, these textual bonds begin to draw the two closer and closer together. Both reach epiphanies in private chambers, away from friends and loved ones. Both go to the window to find some form of clarity and tranquility. Both even try to lapse into private thought and reflection.

    However, while Dalloway is left undisturbed by the party goers (Who are too busy with their own pleasures) to complete these reflections, the over-zealous doctors attempt to rush in on Septimus. His stream of consciousness is broken (“The sun hot. Only human beings – What did they want?”) before he can reach any meaningful realization and he is seemingly forced to jump out the window.

    Now, I will admit, that the phrase “Only human beings – What did they want?” could be using the dash as a pause and not to signify an interruption of thought. However, the similarities between the two when it comes to their moment of reflection bear some consideration.

    I’d go into it more, but that’s for the second essay.”

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