5 October 2014
The Double Effect in Mrs. Dalloway The novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is a unique novel and has many characters that pop in and out of the story. There are two characters that the author intended to double one another. These characters are Clarissa Dalloway the main character and heroine of the novel and Septimus Warren Smith an isolated war veteran. When we first begin to meet the characters this seems like an odd concept but despite their differences they share many similarities. All of what goes on in this novel is the course of one single day. We learn a lot about these main characters throughout this novels entirety the double there carries itself whole. The use of the double helps carry other ideas and themes and bring them to the light of the reader. Throughout the novel, the characters have a fear of death and constant feeling of oppression. Between the two main characters these themes are portrayed and drawn out. Clarissa Dalloway for sure is the main character of the novel as her name bears the title. Clarissa is a delicate upper class woman; she is very introverted and can be shy but loves to host parties. Her constant battle is letting others in and sharing her soul with the world. She has a constant desire for privacy while living under the oppression of British society. Even those that know Clarissa very well can feel shut out of her world even her husband Richard Dalloway. There are a few quotes showing this perfectly by how her own husband feels he cannot tell her he loves her.
“Here he was walking across London to say to Clarissa in so many words that he loved her. Which one never does say, he thought.”
“Considering the problem of the female vagrant; not that they would ever speak. But he would tell Clarissa that loved her, in so many words.”Woolf 118
“(But he could not bring himself to say he loved her; not in so many words.) But how lovely, she said, taking his flowers. She understood; she understood without his speaking”
All of these quotes show the situation between Clarissa and her husband. Although the bond between the two is strong and there is love there it can be hard for them to express it. Clarissa is an extremely introverted person. This situation is also important because another underlying theme going on is Clarissa’s possible regret. She throughout the novel questions if her marriage to Richard was the right one. This point is a point for her changed her life and is something she dwells on. Clarissa wonders if she should have married her once boyfriend Peter Walsh. Although she would not have the upper class life she has now she could have had a life that derived pleasure from other aspects. This is part of where the theme of oppression comes in Clarissa chose to live the life looked upon better in society. Richard was once jealous of Clarissa and Peter Walsh which is part of the reason why he can have trouble saying he loves her. Clarissa struggles to maintain her external life with these internal thoughts running rampant in her mind. She although has a strong will wants to prevail. The next main character is Septimus Warren Smith, Woolf’s double of Clarissa as shown throughout the novel. Septimus is a hardened vet of World War I and he is still suffering from repercussions of it. He is suffering from shell shock and is lost inside of his own mind. He has lost he sense of reality and resents himself for being rendered this way because of fighting in the war. He is married to Lucrezia who is trying to help him become better and normal with the help of Septimus’ doctor Sir William Bradshaw. He still sees and speaks to his friend Evans who died in the war. That was the point in which Septimus’ relinquished his sanity. When he witnessed his friend dying he became a changed person. That is wear his sanity started to wear thin and brought him to the point he is at. Woolf set these two characters up with a few key similarities. These