Mrs. Dalloway – Mind Reading

“Clarissa had a theory in those days…It ended in a transcendental theory which, with her horror of death, allowed her to believe, or say that she believed (for all her skepticism), that since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that…perhaps – perhaps.” (148-149)

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

In this passage, Peter Walsh reminisces on Clarissa in her younger years. It is just after Septimus has jumped from the window and Peter sees the ambulance that drives by. It sets him off on a mental tangent about the progress of civilization, life and death, and then Clarissa. It seems that everything ultimately goes back to Clarissa with him. This moment is especially interesting because we see a glimpse of Clarissa in her past, from Peter’s perspective. She is talking about life after death, something very spiritual as well as intellectual. This is a side of her we don’t see in her present self. It implies a nostalgia Peter holds for the way she used to be; young, radical, and vivacious. A side of her that has been somewhat lost over the years with time and age. A depth to her that has shallowed. He remembers the Clarissa he fell in love with and acknowledges the life changing impact she has had on him.

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