Mrs. Dalloway Mind-Read

“She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Clarissa.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 115.

This sentence assumes that Mrs. Dalloway is capable of reading the mind of her husband, and understanding that by giving her flowers, he was thinking of her as: “his Clarissa.” It implies that the two know each other and understand each other very well. However, Mr. Dalloway brought his wife the flowers with the intention of telling her that he loved her, although he ended up being unable to say it. His lack of ability to come out and say this implies that he does not love her at all, and this mind-read implies that maybe Mrs. Dalloway herself gets that. Her validity in her assumptions about his thoughts are likely accurate, since she did assume that he meant to say “his Clarissa,” not “I love you,” which is a declaration of ownership more than it is one of love. However, since Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway are obviously not very close (not even close enough for him to feel comfortable saying that he loves her) her validity in knowing what he is thinking is somewhat questionable, since she may not know him as well as a typical wife would know her husband. This relates to the rest of the novel because the very title in itself–“Mrs. Dalloway”–implies a sense of ownership of Mr. Dalloway over his wife, since Mrs. Dalloway’s first name is not even given to the readers until further on in the novel. Mrs. Dalloway’s struggle for her own identity and agency is a huge theme in the novel, and this sentence of her knowing that her husband is very possessive and objectifying of her, expresses that theme.

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