Mrs. Dalloway: Chapter 5 - Summary

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Peter Walsh’s Visit to Mrs. Dalloway after Five Years.

      Mrs. Dalloway decides to put on a green dress for the evening party but it is torn at one place thus she puts it into the drawing room to mend. Arrangements for the party is almost over and Clarissa Dalloway is very much satisfied with them. She knows very well that her servants like her, love her and are helping to her. This is so due to her generosity and large-heartedness. At this moment she feels calm and quiet like a person lying on the beach. Suddenly the door-bell rings. Clarissa tries to hide her dress “like a person protecting chastity, respecting privacy.” Peter Walsh comes in after five years from India. He kisses her hand and in order to hide his embarrassment, he starts playing with his big pocketknife. Clarissa finds no change in him. Peter thinks that Clarissa has been leading an idle, comfortable life in her home when he was on his tours and adventures. According to him nothing is worse than the marriage and a conservative husband like Richard Dalloway. Both of them feel upset and disturbed. They cannot stop thinking about the past. The past rises before Peter like “a ghastly beautiful moon.” He tells her that his wife is dead and he is in love with a Major’s wife who has two children. Thus he has come to London in order to manage her divorce etc.

      Mrs. Dalloway thinks that she has committed a mistake in preferring Richard to Peter Walsh. Richard has left her alone for Lady Bruton. She looks at Peter with eyes tearful and heart filled with the thought. “Take me with you”. But it was a momentary excitement and she has lived a whole life-time.

      Peter Walsh also does not control his emotions and it overflws into his tears. Clarissa Dalloway impulsively kisses him feeling herself light-hearted. She thinks if she has married him the pleasure would have been of her everyday. Now she has only the attic room, the lonely soul. She begins to question herself, “Does the real happiness he in material comforts? She realizes that material comforts can not bring her true happiness. She knows this very well that Peter would never have gone all alone with a lady.

      When Peter asks, “Are you happy, Clarissa? Does Richard—”, Elizabeth comes in and Mrs. Dalloway introduces her as: “Here is my Elizabeth”. The church clock (Big Ben) strikes 11.30 A.M. and Peter takes leave of Clarissa Dalloway. She shouts, from behind “Remember my party tonight.”

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