Mind reading — Peter’s response to the question of love.

“–Peter always in love, always in love with the wrong woman? What’s your love? she might say to him. And she knew his answer; how it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” 

The first question makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes that Peter is the source of love — he is never the recipient of mutual feelings. Second, it assumes that Peter is in love with the “wrong” woman, which implies bad judgement. Third, it assumes Clarissa is the “wrong” woman — in suggesting this, she is attempting to hide her love for Peter on the basis of a pre-existing relationship with Richard. While not his answer, the assumptions above are reflected in the question posed to Peter. 

In response to the question “What’s your love?” Clarissa supposes that Peter would answer: “it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” This, like the question, assumes a number of things: First, it assumes that Peter, for his love, is irrational. In Clarissa’s projected answer, there is an absurd tone; how could love be the most important thing in the world. Second, it assumes, in what is an empirical falsehood, that Peter is the sole human who is obsessed with the condition of being in love. In the novel, many characters are driven by love: Rezia and Clarissa, most notably. Third, Clarissa implants herself into the answer. In her attempt to reject Peter’s love, she uses the language of “no woman” to resolve the tension she is experiencing; she is searching for someone who says ‘you may not love Peter.’ 

Mrs. Dalloway

“The way she said “Here is my Elizabeth!”— that annoyed him. Why not “Here’s Elizabeth” simply? It was insincere. And Elizabeth didn’t like it either. (Still the last tremors of the great booming voice shook the air round him; the half-hour; still early; only half-past eleven still.) For he understood young people; he liked them. There was always something cold in Clarissa, he thought. She had always, even as a girl, a sort of timidity, which in middle age becomes conventionality, and then it’s all up, it’s all up, he thought, looking rather drearily into the glassy depths, and wondering whether by calling at that hour he had annoyed her; overcome with shame suddenly at having been a fool; wept; been emotional; told her everything, as usual, as usual.”

In this quote, readers are given some outside description of Mrs. Dalloway. Although while reading up until this point, it is clear to me that Mrs. Dalloway is trying just a little too hard to impress people at her party. “Here is my Elizabeth” is almost her way of bragging about her daughter, treating her like a piece of furniture. Peter gives off mixed feelings about Clarissa when he calls her “cold.”