London of Mrs Dalloway Essay

Words: 1162
Pages: 5

Mrs. Dalloway’s London

''When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.'' --Samuel Johnson

The early part of the Twentieth Century saw England as the major super power in the world. During this time, England ascended to the height of its imperial powers, with its grasp and influence worldwide. A phrase was even coined in recognition of this fact: “The Empire on which the sun never sets”. And yet despite England’s great power, its citizenry was undergoing a dramatic paradigm shift on several fronts: religious, psychological, and epistemological, to name a few. Post World War I, life in England would never be the same as people came face to face with not just the imagery of war,
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Clarissa and Septimus share a heightened awareness of London’s motion and energy which is unmatched in intensity by any of the novel’s other characters. As the novel progresses, Woolf continually links Clarissa and Septimus through scenes like this one that reveal the intensity of urban sensation, so that Clarissa easily visualizes Septimus’ death and readily empathizes with his decision in the novel’s final pages. The link between them makes her reflections seem perfectly natural even though the two never truly met.

Sonita Sarker argues that for Woolf London and those great writers she reverend Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens-- are a metaphor for Englishness. But Woolf was in no sense a flag-waving promoter of all things English. As a lifelong pacifist, she had been in conflict with English imperialism all her adult life. She was extremely sensitive to the way that class privilege (like male privilege) oppresses women, and she was an acute observer of people of all classes, but particularly of the contrast between the British working class and the British upper middle class, where her family were securely fixed.

The novel was written between 1922 and 1924 and is set mainly in 1923 so historically it is situated within a period of important change in British political life, with the demise of the two-party dominance of the Tories and