Mrs. Dalloway: Chapter 7 - Summary

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Septimus’ Hallucination and Peter’s Sentiments for Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway.

      Peter is sitting by the side of a nurse in the Regent’s Park. He sees a child running off from nurse into the legs of a lady Lucrezia. She is there with her husband on another seat at that time.

      Rezia too is unhappy like Peter. She thinks world a most wicked place because it is too painful for her although she has done nothing wrong. Now she starts recalling past five years of her life. She had abandoned Italy for the sake of Septimus but England do not appeal to her like Italy. Septimus is frequently suffering from mental derangement, receiving hallucinations of war, of his friend who had died during the war. He fancies people talking behind the bedroom walls and at times he sees things. This is the root cause of the terrible mental agony of Rezia. On the way, he talks all sorts of nonsense to Rezia and after reaching home and lying on sofa, he feels that he has fallen into the burning flames. She has already consulted specialists like Dr. Holmes who told her that there is nothing serious about him. But Septimus’ condition gets more and more worse. He now experiences, that he has explored the secret and meaning of life. He hears strange voices, he feels that he must tell his secret to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. His secret knowledge is that trees are alive, and in the world there is no crime and no love. At times when he sees dog, he fancies that it is turning into a man. Though it is horrible yet he is searching for a scientific explanation of the phenomenon. At other times nature’s beauty fascinates him a lot and he mutters that “Beauty is everywhere.”

      Now Lucrezia returns to the place where Septimus is sitting very silently dreaming about something. Lucrezia tells Septimus that now they have to go to the Doctor. At this, Septimus sings on and imagines that Evans too is singing from behind the trees. The branches are parting and Evans is coming towards him in grey light. He gets terrified and shouts. It is no one else but Peter is coming to that side. It is quarter to twelve as struck by London clock and Peter moves to go to his lawyer.

      Here is presented a picture of London society. In his way, to the lawyer, Peter observes the London scene. He finds London more beautiful and improved. He finds all the woman who passes by him are beautiful and will fall in love with them. People are in better dress and their fashions are more attractive. The cosmetics, ladies use, make them look more charming. Manners have changed and the young boys and girls are getting mixed up more freely than before. He thinks about a young lady named Betty whom he met on board the ship. She used to be mixed up with boys freely and now-a-days living comfortably in a rich house near Manchester. The word “Manchester” reminds him of Sally Seton who is living there after her marriage. Peter thinks that they (Sally and Peter) had many things in common. Both of them detested Whitbread. He had high respect for British Aristocracy and though Clarissa was impressed by his pretension yet Sally’s opinion about him was that, “he represented all that was most detestable in British middle-class life.” She said to Peter that Hugh Whitbread had read nothing, thought nothing, felt nothing. She had a natural grudge against him because he had once attempted to kiss her in the smoking room. Hugh Whithbread is the greatest snob Peter has ever met. He was an absolute pig who could be easily used for doing odd jobs like a valet. He has married Evelyn and now serves the court, probably he looks after the King’s cellar or polishes his shoe buckles. But he earns five or ten thousand a year, and it is more than Peter’s earnings. Peter is in search of a job and although Hugh can secure a job for him yet he finds it better to request Richard Dalloway for this work. Now Peter starts thinking about Richard and Clarissa Dalloway. Richard Dalloway is a thoroughly good sort sensible, practical and rational. But he lacks imagination and brilliance. He should not waste his time and energy in politics but has remained a country gentleman with his dogs and horses. He thinks of Clarissa and feels surprised at Clarissa’s acceptance of his views on poetry and Shakespeare. For instance, Richard once had told that no decent man should study Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Clarissa had agreed to it. But Sally disliked Richard. She knew that Richard wanted to marry Clarissa and she requested Peter to save Clarissa from such people who would “stiffle her soul” and “make a mere hostess of her, encourage her worldliness.” But however, Clarissa married him. Peter recalls Sally gifted with a feminine gift “of making a world of her own” and impressing people.

      Peter can not cease himself from remembering Clarissa Dalloway’s fault, though he does not love her now. She is too worldly much careful of her rank and position. She hates failures and has high respect for British aristocrats. Now she has become a mere hostess. All her parties are arranged for Richard Dalloway. All her visiting and social courtesies are with the purpose to lay benefit to Richard Dalloway. She is a thorough skeptic who holds the opinion that God takes delight in making the poor suffer. Her bitterness against God is the result of an accident in which her sister Sylvia had died because a tree had fallen on her. Clarissa does good things not for god but for good itself. She is very helpful to her husband and proud of her daughter. Her daughter Elizabeth whom he left five years ago as a “round, eyes pale-faced girl” playing hockey has now become grown up and probably thinks him an old man. She must think that he is fifty-three but old age means more of experience and more capacity of enjoying life without any personal involvement. So he should stop thinking about Clarissa.

      Now Peter begins to interrogate himself that if he still loves Clarissa. He concludes that he does not love her any longer. It is she who loves him. That is why he had found her so agitated that morning. He asks himself why did he weep before her? He replies to himself that it was not because of love but jealousy caused him to weep because Clarissa has married another man.

      While thinking about her Peter reaches a crossing where he notices a poor old woman, begging. He gives her money as he steps into the taxi. Rezia also reaches there at crossing with Septimus. Septimus looks like a distant man — like a clerk of the better sort. He had left home for his career. He had become a clerk and his employer has a very high opinion about him. He had fallen in love with Miss Isabel Pole, lecturing in the Waterloo Road about Shakespeare. He was one of the first to volunteer for the war, to save England; which consisted nearly all the Shakespeare’s plays and Miss Isabel Pole. He has married to find security and Lucrezia became a victim to it. She is a lady of intelligence and artistic taste. She thought that his silence was because of the racial features of the English; ‘the English are so silent’, she thought. She wanted to see London, so, she has married him. Now five years have passed and Rezia wants a son. But all is in vain, because Septimus has lost interest in life; he wants to kill himself. Dr. Holmes also could not cure him. Septimus seems to have gone mad. Dr. Holmes advises them to consult Dr. William Bradshaw, the specialist.

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