Mrs. Dalloway

“All the time he was thinking only of Clarissa, and was fidgeting with his knife” (Woolf 187)

Here Sally is assuming that Peter is still in love with Clarissa. It highlights the fact that after all these years Peter still yearns for Clarissa. Woolf is further solidifying Peter’s feelings for Clarissa by allowing another character to make the conclusion on their own. However, by allowing Sally to think of Peter’s feelings of Clarissa, Woolf is also drawing on the relationship between Sally, Clarissa, and Peter. This strengthens the validity of Sally’s thoughts because she has known both Peter and Clarissa for a long time, also offering that Peter’s feelings for Clarissa may not be apparent to everyone else.

Mrs. Dalloway

“She felt somehow very like him-the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 182

This is not directly thinking about what someone else thinks mostly because Septimus is dead. However, this sentence puts the reader under the impression that Clarissa knew exactly what Septimus thought and felt before he died. She tries to connect her feelings to his, and in doing that basically creates her own fantasy about what Septimus was feeling. This adds to Carissa as a character as well. It is clear she is not considerate of others feelings and not only assumes about their emotions/thoughts but creates her own to match others with what she is feeling. Yet again in this novel does another character feel they knew what Septimus was feeling and what his emotions were at the time. The feeling of loneliness still resonates long after Septimus is dead.



Peter Walsh’s mind-read of Clarissa Dalloway

“She would be frightfully sorry for him; she would think what in the world she could do to give him pleasure (short always of the one thing) and he could see her with the tears running down her cheeks going to her writing-table and dashing off that one line which he was to find greeting him…. ‘Heavenly to see you!’”

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005), 152.

In response to receiving Clarissa’s brief note, Peter Walsh imagines what she must have been thinking as she wrote it. Woolf’s use of the conditional tense emphasizes that this is what Peter thinks what happened, and this may not necessarily be what Clarissa was actually thinking. Her use of semi-colons also trace the way in which Peter constructs this imagining. Typically, what follows the semi-colon is a logical follow-up or support of the previous statement. In this case, each sentence leads into the next to form one big, compound sentence, creating a sense of progression that mimics Peter’s step-by-step construction of Clarissa’s thoughts. Woolf breaks the pattern a little when she adds in parenthesis “short always of the one thing,” which may be interpreted as the possibility of a marriage or romantic relationship between Peter and Clarissa. By creating this break in Peter’s thought process, Woolf detracts from the “fantasy” in his head by sneaking in the present tense reality in which they’ll never be together romantically. As a result, Woolf relates to the reader that Peter’s imagining of Clarissa’s thoughts are what he wants to believe to have happened, but likely did not. When Peter quotes Clarissa’s one line at the end, Woolf uses a gruff and sarcastic tone that indicates Peter’s frustration of having been made to think about what Clarissa was thinking when she wrote the note.