Mrs. Dalloway Study Guide

Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway is the story of high society matron Clarissa Dalloway and her life between the two World Wars. The story centers on her preparations for a party to be held at her residence. The narrative moves between perspectives and backward and forward through time, examining high society as it changed through the first half of the twentieth century. The story focuses intently on the minutiae of life among the English wealthy.

Sir William Bradshaw

Sir William Bradshaw is a famous psychiatrist to whom Septimus' physician, Dr. Holmes, refers Septimus. Bradshaw notes that Septimus has had a complete nervous breakdown and suggests spending time in the country as a cure.

Clarissa Dalloway

Clarissa Dalloway is the 51-year-old protagonist of the novel. She is Richard's wife and Elizabeth's mother, and, while reminiscing about her past, spends the day organising a party that will be held that night. She is self-conscious about her role in London high society.

Elizabeth Dalloway

Elizabeth Dalloway is Clarissa and Richard's 17-year-old daughter. She is said to look "oriental" and has great composure. Compared to her mother, she takes great pleasure in politics and modern history, hoping to be either a doctor or farmer in the future. She would rather spend time in the country with her father than at her mother's party.

Richard Dalloway

Richard Dalloway is Clarissa's practical, "simple" husband, who feels disconnected from his wife. He is immersed in his work in government.

Miss Kilman

Miss Doris Kilman, originally "Kiehlman", is Elizabeth's schoolmistress for history and is a born-again Christian. She has a degree in history and during the Great War was dismissed from her teaching job because "Miss Dolby thought she would be happier with people who shared her views about the Germans". She has a German ancestry and wears an unattractive mackintosh coat because she is uninterested in dressing to please others. She dislikes Clarissa intensely but loves to spend time with Elizabeth.

Sally Seton

Sally Seton is a love interest of Clarissa's, with whom she shared a kiss, who is now married to Lord Rosseter and has five boys. Sally had a strained relationship with her family and spent substantial time with Clarissa's family in her youth. She once could be described as feisty as well as a youthful ragamuffin, although she has become more conventional with age.

Lucrezia "Rezia" Smith

Lucrezia "Rezia" Smith is Septimus' Italian wife. She is burdened by his mental illness and believes she is judged because of it. During most of the novel she is homesick for her family and country, which she left to marry Septimus after the Armistice.

Septimus Warren Smith

Septimus Warren Smith is a World War I veteran who suffers from "shell shock" and hallucinations of his deceased friend, Evans. Educated and decorated in the war, he is detached from society and believes himself to be unable to feel. He is married to Lucrezia, from whom he has grown distant.

Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh is an old friend of Clarissa's who has failed at most of his ventures in life. In the past, Clarissa rejected his marriage proposal. Now he has returned to England from India and is one of Clarissa's party guests. He plans to marry Daisy, a married woman in India, and has returned to try to arrange a divorce for his current wife.

Hugh Whitbread

Hugh Whitbread is a pompous friend of Clarissa's, who holds an unspecified position in the British Royal household. Like Clarissa, he places great importance on his place in society. Although he believes he is an essential member of the British aristocracy, Lady Bruton, Clarissa, Richard, and Peter find him obnoxious.

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