Septimus’s thoughts on tragedy

“It was their idea of tragedy, not his or Rezia’s (for she was with him).” (146).

In this sentence Septimus is about to kill himself by jumping out the window as Dr. Holmes was coming upstairs to see him. This is an interesting part of the book because up until a few pages before his suicide Septimus is portrayed as almost entirely insane. It is while helping design a hat moments before his suicide that he is said to be himself for the first time in a while. In the quote Septimus does not think that his suicide will be beautiful poetic or tragic. He believes that in killing himself he is giving everyone else what they want in the form of a tragic death thus him saying “I’ll give it to you!” (146)., right before jumping. This serves to show how his mind was not working properly as he is out of touch with the other characters believing that his death will serve them in a way that he could not in life.

Mrs. Dalloway Mind-Read

“She felt very like him- the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; Thrown it away.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 182

This line from Mrs. Dalloway is ironic with the title of the assignment itself, “mindread”, because it is as if she can or had actually read Septimus’ mind. Clarissa put herself in Septimus’ shoes before he died and therefore knew his mindset and feelings. Not only that, but Clarissa could also relate to Septimus because she felt similar emotions. However, this idea of feeling what he felt ultimately desensitizes the death of Septimus and what he went through because at the end of the day, it is all subjective. There is no way she actually read his mind, but it is made to seem that way- that the feelings are shared.

Mrs. Dalloway

“She felt somehow very like him-the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 182

This is not directly thinking about what someone else thinks mostly because Septimus is dead. However, this sentence puts the reader under the impression that Clarissa knew exactly what Septimus thought and felt before he died. She tries to connect her feelings to his, and in doing that basically creates her own fantasy about what Septimus was feeling. This adds to Carissa as a character as well. It is clear she is not considerate of others feelings and not only assumes about their emotions/thoughts but creates her own to match others with what she is feeling. Yet again in this novel does another character feel they knew what Septimus was feeling and what his emotions were at the time. The feeling of loneliness still resonates long after Septimus is dead.



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.

Mrs. Dalloway

“Septimus Warren Smith, aged about thirty, pale-faced, beak-nosed, wearing brown shoes and a shabby overcaot, with hazel eyes which had that look of apprehension in them which makes complete strangers apprehensive too. The world has raised its whip; where will it descend?” (14)

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

The next paragraph continues, “Everything had come to a complete standstill.” This description of Septimus happens directly in the middle of the loud explosion of the car backfiring. Yet everyone at the scene is still in the midst of figuring out what caused the loud explosion sound. The way Woolfe narrates this particular scene, like she does many others throughout Mrs. Dalloway, slows the scene down to a complete stop. Septimus, although only thirty years of age, is described as though he were much older. He had a look in his eyes, a “look of apprehension” that not only consumed himself, but also outwardly struck others. Septimus’ thoughts spill into the narration, him thinking that “the world has raised its whip”. At this point, the reader has no idea who this man is, why his look of apprehension affects others, and why his view on the world seems to be so guarded and so negative. It’s a looming, grave thought. He doesn’t say “when will it descend”, but rather “where will it descend”, never questioning that this event may or may not happen. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

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.