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Lecture 20

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Tuesday April 1 Lecture 20 Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway (con’t) and Larkin, “Church Going” Mrs. Dalloway: The Party Clarissa’s Gift? (2176) • Clarissa acknowledges the ebb and flow of life – a person is not one thing or another (they are a result of the past and present) • She isn’t like a typical housewife with pretend fights, gossip, and whose life revolves around parties o She is aware that those things are trivial, she sees the absurdity of it • Her gift is that she is situated in her own world, but she is able to reflect on it o What it means to exist, to be alive • All of the parts of Clarissa are incompatible, but she is able to bring them together as if they were one woman o When she can compose herself in front of the mirror, she can bring herself into one unified person o This takes effort and bravery (the act of heroism in the novel) o Prufrock: Prufrock knows he has to play different roles, but doesn’t have the same awareness and success as Clarissa • Clarissa stages her parties not for herself, but for the guests who come o She is creating a community where people can do the same thing she does in front of the mirror – form an identity and sense of self • Clarissa worries whether the party will be a flop (that people won’t get along, it will be awkward, not everyone will show up) • p. 2250 – The curtain in Clarissa’s home is blowing as it catches the wind, but one guest beats back the curtain (Clarissa feels that the party will be all right) o He keeps talking and the party keeps happening even though the curtain is flapping o Everyone improvises and makes it up as they go along (what the party requires) o The problem with parties is that they expose the fact that they are staged – everyone has a script to fill  Each self is nothing more than a role that we have to play for ourselves and others  If people become overly conscious of this, they start to become embarrassed • The reward of the party is Clarissa’s gift – not to deny that people are made up of many bits and pieces (specific roles), but to embrace it o It is the good of parties that Clarissa excels at Septimus: A Double (2259) • As the party is happening, news comes of a tragic death (Septimus’ suicide) when the doctor talks about a patient who has committed suicide • Clarissa is empathetic and reflects on the news • Clarissa and Septimus were similar in that they can both reflect on life (they had a certain perception) o Clarissa was Septimus’ doppelganger, his double o The stream of consciousness te
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