“Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.”
Sanity is relative, but I think this also points out how everything is relative to the opinions of the majority.
“She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history.”
Woolf writes about how women are consistently present in writing but never actually doing any of the writing. It is a contradiction of a female’s existence that she is a being to be written about but lacks the freedom to write. She critiques sexism and the oppression faced by women writers.
When we are going out, Whitfield comes. He is wet and muddy to the waist, coming in. “The Lord comfort this house,” he says. “I was late because the bridge was gone. I went down to the old ford and swum my horse over, the Lord protected me His grace be upon this house.”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 88.
Throughout the novel characters show their reliance on God and their unique perspective regarding souls and spiritual phenomenon. Vardaman breaks down because he believes his mothers soul was transferred into a fish. God is a huge part of their lives and defines their lives, without the explanation that God can make it rain and can also make it stop they would have no explanation for why life is the way it is. The way they use spirituality to explain what is going on around them and happening in their lives is interesting to read.
“He touches the quilt as he saw Dewey Dell do, trying to smooth it up to the chin, but disarranging it instead. He tries to smooth it again, clumsily, his hand awkward as a claw, smoothing at the wrinkles which he made and which continue to emerge beneath his hand with perverse ubiquity, so that at last he desists, his hand falling to his side and stroking itself again, palm and back, on his thigh.”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 52.
This passage illuminates how selfish Pa is, and the “wrinkles” he creates foreshadow the events further on in the novel that are simply means to the end Pa wanted, not in fulfillment of Addie’s wishes as he claims. It also emphasizes his lack of genuine love for his wife, with his hand as “awkward as a claw”, as he attempts to smooth the quilt under her chin. He ends up comforting himself, not for his loss but at the long awaited prospect of finally obtaining his teeth, with his hand “stroking itself” in a way that he could not stroke his wife.
“It was about a mile from the house we saw him, sitting on the edge of the slough. It hadn’t had a fish in it never that I knowed. He looked around at us, his eyes round and calm, his face dirty, the pole across his knees. Cora was still singing. ”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 92.
The use of free indirect discourse tells the reader about the scene. We are given the location from the house and inside information about there never having been a fish. The descriptions given about his cleanliness and eyes seem to serve to contradict each other in the way that given his poor appearance, he still had the ability to present a calmness about him.
“She will go out where Peabody is…If you just knew. I am I and you are you and I know it and you dont know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know except you and me and Darl.”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 51.
In this chapter, Faulker demonstrates more clearly how strangely perceptive Darl is. As narrator, Darl appears to be in multiple places at once. He is somehow back home watching his mother die, going into town with Jewel, and inside Dewey Dell’s consciousness. Here, Darl narrates Dewey Dell’s anguish of wanting to ask Dr. Peabody for an abortion, but lacking the courage to ask him. He begins with “she,” and then his voice seems to become Dewey Dell’s, or at least speak in the same tenor as she does, when he switches to a first-person “I.”
“For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts, but barring the way to politics too, even when the risk to himself seems infinitesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted.”
This concept of a woman’s inferiority solely so a man can be seen as superior is nothing new. The “influence on a woman’s movement” can also be interpreted as two different scenarios: one being her movement in station or class by her own means impeded by a man; or two, being the physical act of moving itself, in order to intimidate her. The real-world and highly relevant example that comes to mind when looking at this passage is the current presidential race between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton; while she has broken many a “glass ceiling”, her opponent has still mocked and criticized her capability to lead on the sole fact that she is a woman. During the second debate he continued to move about the stage in a predatory manner, like a shark. The only saving grace, regardless of one’s views on Hilary Clinton, no one could label her a “suppliant”.
“It was their idea of tragedy, not his or Rezia’s (for she was with him).” (146).
In this sentence Septimus is about to kill himself by jumping out the window as Dr. Holmes was coming upstairs to see him. This is an interesting part of the book because up until a few pages before his suicide Septimus is portrayed as almost entirely insane. It is while helping design a hat moments before his suicide that he is said to be himself for the first time in a while. In the quote Septimus does not think that his suicide will be beautiful poetic or tragic. He believes that in killing himself he is giving everyone else what they want in the form of a tragic death thus him saying “I’ll give it to you!” (146)., right before jumping. This serves to show how his mind was not working properly as he is out of touch with the other characters believing that his death will serve them in a way that he could not in life.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
“Peter Walsh! All three, Lady Burton,Hugh Whitbread, and Richard Dalloway, remembered the same thing how passionately Peter had been in love; been rejected; gone to India, come a cropper; made a mess of things; and Richard Dalloway had a very great liking for the dear old fellow too.”
Peter Walsh is quite the character. He does some crazy things, such as stalking girls to make himself feel young again. After his love falls apart he goes to India and marries a girl he meets. He seems to act reckless due to his emotions. His friends still love him though, even though he did not act in the most proper way and made a mess of things. His friends are accepting since they realize that it was his passionate failed love with Clarissa that caused him to act so reckless and crazy. They all still like him despite his actions.
“Hunted out of existence, maimed, frozen, the victims of cruelty and injustice (she had heard Richard say so over and over again)- no, she could feel nothing for the Albanians, or was it the Armenians? but she loved her roses (didn’t that help the Armenians?)- the only flowers she could bear to see cut” (120).
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
For context, the sentences before are: “And people would say, ‘Clarissa Dalloway is spoilt.’ She cared much more for the roses than for the Armenians.” The initial use of quotation marks suggest that people may have actually said this about Mrs. Dalloway. The absence of quotation marks around the next few sentences suggest free indirect discourse through Mrs. Dalloway; Clarissa thinks about how “people” think about her. Clarissa assumes others criticize her for focusing more on the menial and materialistic, like roses, rather than larger issues, like the Albanians/Armenians as victims of injustice. Parenthesis are used to separate Clarissa’s own thoughts with her thoughts of how others view her. Parenthetical phrases offer access to her self-reflection and highlights her own insecurities. “(She had heard Richard say so over and over again)” is her admission that she would not have known or thought about the cruelties of the Armenians if not for Richard. Clarissa considers, “(didn’t that help the Armenians)” regarding her loving the roses. She asks this rhetorically and ironically, the juxtaposition of the roses and Armenians as victims of cruelty and injustice suggesting that she understands that her opinion of the roses does nothing for the Armenians. Clarissa’s assumption that others view her negatively fits with the rest of the novel, her actions defined by the way in which they affect others’ opinions of her. Clarissa’s representation of others’ calls for the readers skepticism, as her assumptions of how others perceive her are a means to project her own insecurities.
“Elizabeth rather wondered, as they did up the parcel, what Miss Kilman was thinking.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 127
In this passage, Elizabeth wonders what Miss Kilman is thinking as they shop for petticoats. Much of the novel is written in free indirect discourse. Though the book is written in third person, the reader is able to understand the thoughts of several different characters. In this particular passage, Elizabeth wonders about Miss Kilman as she guides her around the Army and Navy store. Though they get along, Miss Kilman and Elizabeth are completely dissimilar. While Elizabeth is young and beautiful, Miss Kilman is unhappy, scornful, and wretched with self pity. In this moment, Elizabeth wonders about Miss Kilman’s nature and she hopes to leave Miss Kilman’s side. As a born again Christian, Miss Kilman often attempts to persuade Elizabeth to accept her religious beliefs, and though she does not reciprocate Miss Kilman’s attraction, Elizabeth likes the new ideas and opportunities that Miss Kilman presents to her.
“…Saw him hesitate; consider; which interested her, as Mr. Dalloway always interested her, for what was he thinking, she wondered, about Peter Walsh?
That Peter Walsh had been in love with Clarissa; that he would go back directly after lunch and find Clarissa; that he would tell her in so many words, that he loved her. Yes, he would say that.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 104
In this scene, Mr. Whitbread, Lady Bruton and Mr. Dalloway are dining together and Lady Bruton had just mentioned that Peter Walsh is back in town. Lady Bruton’s secretary, Milly Brush, is her thinking about what Mr. Dalloway must be analyzing in his mind about Peter Walsh. What could he be thinking about the man that used/still may love his wife? Actually, the passage intrigued my in many ways because of its reflection of both Milly Brush as a character and also how she perceives Mr. Dalloway. As the reader we see that Mrs. Dalloway is actually unhappy and insecure about her marriage to Richard, however, here Milly is portraying Mr. Dalloway’s full love and affection for his wife in a form of jealousy and assurance in claiming her as his own in love and in a strange way that his love has emerged only in the light of another man’s love for Clarissa. Milly Brush seems to assume a character of Mr. Dalloway that expresses love and care, however as the reader I see the opposite. Her assumption of his thoughts shows to me that her idea of Richard is that of jealousy and insecurity. If she did not think that Richard was insecure about his marriage, would she be so sure in her assumption of his thoughts being that of seeking reassurance of his love with his wife?
“She held her hands to her head, waiting for him to say did he like the hat or not, and as she sat there, waiting, looking down, he could feel her mind, like a bird, falling from branch to branch, and always alighting, quite rightly; he could follow her mind, as she sat there in one of those loose lax poses that came to her naturally, and, if he should say anything, at once she smiled, like a bird alighting with all its claws firm upon the bough.” (Woolf 161)
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Penguin Group, 1992.
In this sentence, Septimus Warren Smith “follows” his wife’s mind as she sits across from him, sewing a hat. Woolf uses the figure of a bird on a tree to represent how Septimus represents Rezia’s mental processes. It’s reflective of Septimus that he does not understand Rezia’s mind in literal terms but through the image of a bird, because of his struggles to interpret the world simply. By attempting to comprehend the mind of another character, Septimus is in effect trying to comprehend human minds in general, including his own. The world through Septimus’ eyes is greatly intensified and somewhat surreal, so the representation of the mind through a figurative image shows another aspect of his unique perspective. It’s also noteworthy that the image of Rezia’s mind is a “bird,” which carries with it a connotation of lightness (consider how the bird “alights” from branch to branch), as opposed to seriousness, as well being a slang term for a young woman originating as early as 1915. (1)
“She felt 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 line from Mrs. Dalloway is ironic with the title of the assignment itself, “mindread”, because it is as if she can or had actually read Septimus’ mind. Clarissa put herself in Septimus’ shoes before he died and therefore knew his mindset and feelings. Not only that, but Clarissa could also relate to Septimus because she felt similar emotions. However, this idea of feeling what he felt ultimately desensitizes the death of Septimus and what he went through because at the end of the day, it is all subjective. There is no way she actually read his mind, but it is made to seem that way- that the feelings are shared.
-“If she could have felled her it would have eased her. But it was not the body; it was the soul and its mockery that she wished to subdue; make feel her mastery. If only she could make her weep; could ruin her; humiliate her; bring her to her knees crying, You are right! But this was God’s will, not Miss Kilman’s.”
-“Clarissa was really shocked. This a Christian – this woman! This woman had taken her daughter from her! She in touch with invisible presences! Heavy, ugly, commonplace, without kindness or grace, she know the meaning of life!”
-This section of the novel shows an inner conflict between Clarissa and Miss Kilman. With minimal dialogue, these two characters are able to have a full blown disagreement. This internal dialogue represents the theme of thought through out the novel. They are both thinking about one another in negative ways, as they analyze and address their issues with each other internally. Their thoughts express what is really going on here.
Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway. (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005) 122.
“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.
“Richard merely thought it foolish of her to like excitement when she knew it was bad for her heart. It was childish, he thought. And both were quite wrong. What she liked was simply life.” (121)
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print.
This sentence occurs after Clarissa receives flowers from Richard, and he tells her to take her afternoon nap at three. This prompts her to analyze why Richard is so insistent that she takes her nap, and it is because, according to Clarissa, Richard takes the doctors opinions very seriously and that it is foolish of her to like to do these things when it is bad for her. This sentence then assumes that Richard thinks that way, because it is framed in Richard’s voice, although it is Mrs. Dalloway who is actually thinking that this is what Richard thinks. It also assumes that Richard only thinks this act is foolish because Clarissa is prone to do it, what it does not presume is what other motivations Richard might have to making sure Clarissa naps, which might be simply because he loves her. This sentence also manages to create a closeness to the character of Richard through the use of reporting of the verb “he thought” but it is actually Clarissa who is doing the thinking, which then makes the reader assume that these thoughts must be true. This again relates to Clarissa’s overall character, as she gets mad at Richard for assuming she has her enjoyment coming from parties and other social events, when she just likes life, yet in getting mad at his assumption she also makes assumptions of Richard’s motives on her own.
“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.
“They thought, or Peter at any rate thought, that she enjoyed imposing herself; liked to have famous people about her; great names; was simply a snob in short” (121).
Clarissa speculates on everyone’s thoughts about her, but she becomes aware that she is estimating simply Peter’s, evident as she (focalized) notes this in the very next clause. The indistinct “they,” immediately clarified to mean Peter only, demonstrates that Peter alone is the metric for Clarissa’s sense of scrutiny from everyone in her immediate circle. In other words, Peter is the “they.” Most people are concerned with their reputation or how they come off to people, but the “they” a person senses scrutiny/judgement from is merely a faceless, general group of people. So, it becomes clear that Peter’s judgements of Clarissa are the ones she is concerned with the most, if not the only ones she is genuinely concerned with. The use of semi-colons as a way of listing, very succinctly and determinately, her perspective on what (Peter) thinks of her, shows that she has thought this out before; she has made a very definitive idea of exactly what Peter thinks about her. Clarissa goes on to state a value judgement Richard makes of her: “Richard merely thought it foolish of her to like excitement when she knew it was bad for her heart” (121). But this would be a more clinical, impersonal judgement on Richard’s part that Clarissa doesn’t seem concerned with. It’s stated as a perfunctory afterthought she doesn’t seem too worried about.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
“…could Miss Kilman really mind it? Yes, Miss Kilman did mind it.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 127
The context of this sentence is the cake that Elizabeth wonders if Miss Kilman had wanted when it is taken from her. Elizabeth is astonished by Miss Kilman’s eating habits and wonders whether she is even hungry at all but simply taking and taking as so many have done to her in the past, leaving her with nothing. Elizabeth acts as the link between the worlds of Miss Kilman and that of her mother and company. Interestingly, Miss Kilman’s feelings toward the two women are the complete opposite. She detests Clarissa and is infatuated with her daughter; feelings that can never be expressed in either regard for fear of unemployment, rejection, or both. So Miss Kilman eats, not out of pleasure, or need, but to finally possess something that no one can take away, and fill herself with something other than feelings of inadequacy and intense emotions.