Mrs. Dalloway: Commonplace and Mind-read

“Holmes would say, ‘In a funk, eh?'”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 145

This sentence represents the way in which Septimus believes everyone else views his mental illness, by being “in a funk.”


In this sentence, Septimus is assuming the way Holmes will approach him and his mental state.  He is assuming that others see his state as something that will pass and not something that is serious and beyond their understanding.  It highlights how Septimus thinks others see him and how that assuming hurts his mental state further.  Septimus is able to see what Holmes thinks of him and in Septimus’ mind, knows that Holmes thinks he needs to get out of this “funk,” belittling Septimus’ true feelings.


“Health we must have; and health is proportion; so that when a man comes into your room and says he is Christ (a common delusion), and has a message, as they mostly have, and threatens, as they often do, to kill himself, you invoke proportion; order rest in bed; rest in solitude; silence and rest; rest without friends, without books, without messages; six months’ rest; until a man who went in weighing seven stone six comes out weighing twelve.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 99

The doctor believes so much in his treatment for mentally ill individuals that people fear him and he is left to do his work without question.  Septimus believes that the doctor will take away his soul and in some sense he might have, if he went to the asylum.  Laying in bed for six months would have changed Septimus and he did not want to change or for his emotions to be stunted.  He did not want to turn into a complacent person without any emotions.  He wanted to be fully human and to feel his emotions fully.

Mental Illness in Mrs.Dalloway

“Lucezia Warren Smith, sitting by her husband’s side on a seat in Regent’s Park in the Broad Walk, looked up. ‘look, look, Septimus!’ she cried. For Dr. Holmes had told her to make her husband (who had nothing whatever seriously the matter with him but was a little out of sorts) take interest in things outside himself.”

Septimus is one of my favorite characters in this story, because while everyone elses issues seem to be on the outside, and mostly social in nature, his is truly a mental illness. His story line proves to be one of the least superficial, and it’s interesting to see the beginning of contrast between him and the other characters in this passage. The way his wife considers his condition, and goes about trying to fix it seems trivial and selfish, as the tone here almost makes it seem as though he is choosing to be this way, especially with the last few lines.