Isolation of Individual in Mrs. Dalloway

Also Read


      Today, in our highly organized, mechanical and materialistic world, we live like islands separated by the “ocean of tears.” somewhere in the core of everybody’s heart, a sense of isolation haunts him. This feeling of isolation has been frequently expressed in the twentieth-century literature. In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s treatment of the sense of loneliness is unparalleled in the whole range of modern fiction. David Daiches remarks, “The novel opens with the heroine planning to give a party; parties bring people together—but do they really bring people together or is one lonelier still in a crowd? As she moves about London shopping, every encounter she has produces a response colored by the whole texture of her earlier experience, so that as we follow the stream-of-consciousness we learn all of her previous history, or all that matters. The events of Mrs. Dalloway’s day, artfully organized so as to project in a host of different ways the nature of this question of the possibilities of communication, are counterpointed against the events in the day of Mr. and Mrs. Septimus Warren Smith, whom she never meets, but with whom she has symbolic relationship, which is emphasized when the specialist who treated Smith comes to her party that evening and, in telling of Smith’s suicide, produces in her a feeling of identification with the poor man. Septimus Warren Smith goes mad because (as a result of his experiences in the First World War) he has lost all sense of contact with other people at all, is driven into the isolated emptiness of himself and is dragged back by representatives of crude conventionality who imagine that by imposing their artificial social norms on him they can restore his sense of communication. The pattern of the novel is woven with extreme delicacy, and the various elements from Mrs. Dalloway’s, past brought into the present through a variety of persuasive devices. The prose itself is carefully cadenced and at times almost poetic, though never rhetorical. The highly individual sense of significance which provides the basis for the plot pattern is conveyed through style and imagery, through the suggestiveness and cunning of the language.’’

The Feeling of Isolation in Mrs. Dalloway’s Life

      In the whole novel, Mrs. Dalloway is suffering with her “attic room”. Though she has no complaints against her husband Richard Dalloway yet she often feels left all alone. When she wants to talk to Mr. Dalloway but he leaves her for his official pursuit. She feels isolated when her maid servant informs her that Mr. Dalloway is not coming at lunch because he is invited by Lady Bruton at her home. At the end of the novel when she is told about the news of suicide committed by Septimus Warren Smith, it is her sense of isolation that makes her leave everybody in the party and enter a silent room to meditate. She finds herself identical to Mr. Septimus because sense of isolation was pricking her soul. She also wants to commit suicide because she does not succeed in enjoying the intimacy of anybody through parties and get-togethers.


      Thus we observe that Mrs. Dalloway that is a rendering of Clarissa Dalloway’s internal happenings is more a depiction of her sense of isolation pursuing her from the beginning to the end.

University Questions

“The isolation of the individual is the basis of the stream-of-consciousness technique”. Discuss this statement with references from the novel of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

Previous Post Next Post