Mind Reading – Mrs. Dalloway

“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.


It wouldn’t have been failure to be bankrupt, dishonoured, pilloried, hanged; it was failure not to be anything. And so, in the dark valley into which his path had taken its unlooked-for twist, he wondered not a little as he groped. He didn’t care what awful crash might overtake him, with what ignominy or what monstrosity he might yet be associated–since he wasn’t, after all, too utterly old to suffer–if it would only be decently proportionate to the posture he had kept, all his life, in the promised presence of it. He had but one desire left–that he shouldn’t be “sold.”

How might Marcher feel that he as it risk for being “sold?” Why the reliance on May to help him through his suffering?; he seems selfish in his own suffering

Henry James. “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories and Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 470.