Plot Summary of The Novel Mrs. Dalloway

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Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway Goes to Buy Flowers in the Market for Party

      Mrs. Dalloway, a lady of 51, is going to the market in order to buy flowers for the evening party. The morning is very calm, fresh “as if issued to children on a beach”. She gets reminded of the time when she was eighteen. Standing very close to an open window, looking at the flowers with smoke winding off the trees, she had enjoyed the bracing feel of the breeze and the freshness of the morning. Peter Walsh, her girlhood friend said to her “Musing among the vegetables”. This statement makes her think of Peter, his smile, his pocket knife, his eyes and many things associated with him starts dancing in front of her eyes.

      Now she is passing through the London Streets and meets a number of people. Hugh Whitbread meets her and informs her that he is going to see the doctor for his ill wife Evelyn Whitbread. Mrs. Dalloway’s thoughts do not stay for a long time on any of these men. She again thinks of Peter Walsh whom she regarded of a “good sort”. She never wrote a fetter to Peter and his letters were terribly dull. Fine artistic things did not fascinate him. He was more interested in the people’s character, stage of the world etc. She remembers how he pointed out her faults, scolded her and also hot arguments they had. She had decided not to marry him, and she thinks her decision was right because in a marriage one should be given a little independence. But “with Peter everything had to be shared, everything gone into.”

The Motor Car Incident

      Mrs. Dalloway reaches the Bond Street and passes through the sewing doors of Mulberry’s, the florist. As she moves from one jar of flowers to another she hears a pistol shot. Actually, it was the back firing of a motor-car engine. A large number of people assemble there as the information of some great personage in the car goes around. In this crowd there are Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Lucrezia. Smith is a haunted soul and he is full of fear and apprehension. The world seems so painful and horrible that he does not know where to descend. He wants to remain unseen and unnoticed. He always feels people pointing towards him. One of his friends was killed in the war. This, and general effect of the war has turned him into a neurotic. He is at odds with the world, always roaming in his own world, unmindful of things happening around him. Dr. Holmes, under whose treatment Septimus is, has advised his wife to make Septimus take interest in the world outside. According to Dr. Holmes there is nothing serious with Septimus. He is not diseased. Smith, lost in his thoughts, jumps up and gets startled when Lucrezia asked him to move forward.

An Aeroplane Advertising Toffee

      Now the car goes along Piccadilly, turns down St. James Street and vanished. Suddenly the sound of an airplane attracts the attention of the crowd. It was coming over the trees emitting white smoke from behind which are forming some letters in the sky by twisting and curling. It was an advertisement of toffee. Everybody looks up and Lucrezia tries a number of time to make Septimus take interest in this method of advertisement but he does not listen to her. Rezia’s condition seems very tragic. She had left her home (Italy) for Septimus and now she is living among the strangers with her neurotic husband who has become her intolerable liability.

After Return Clarissa begins to think about lady Bruton and Sally Seton

      When Clarissa Dalloway returns home after buying flowers she is informed by her maid-servant Lucy that Mr. Richard Dalloway will take lunch with Lady Bruton because she has invited him. Mrs. Dalloway feels too bad because she was not invited but after sometimes she gets reconciled. While thinking over love she is reminded of her old relation with girlhood friend Sally Seton. Sally was exceptionally beautiful with dark, large eyes. She was a very carefree woman going about cycling on the terrace. Her charm was overpowering and magnetic. Thinking about Sally, the old memories come back to her—the contrast between carefree life of Sally and that of her own, and suddenly she thinks: “If it were now to die, it was now to be most happy.” Now she finds it rich to die. Septimus has also, without any special speculation, said: “I will kill myself,” In the course of thinking about Sally, Mrs. Dalloway remembers the moment how once they walked together and Peter was also with them. She starts thinking that he would tell her that she has gone old. (when he will be back from India.)

Arrival of Peter Walsh

      As Clarissa combed her hairs and took her dress she finds a hole in that. She puts it for repairing on the sofa. Suddenly the bell rings. There is Peter Walsh who enters with fidgeting his pocket knife because of feeling embarrassed. Clarrissa finds him the same as he was. He tells her that he has reached the town last night and would soon leave the country. After formal talk, they start recollecting their past. Peter Walsh feels like crying. He is temperamentally very sensitive and emotional. Daisy, the wife of a Major in Indian army whom he has proposed to marry and for whose divorce he has come to England, looks to him “ordinary’’ before Clarissa. Now he realizes how he has been a failure in life. As he is playing with his knife, Clarissa feels irritated. He knows what everybody thinks of him, he bursts into tears. Clarissa kisses him though she thinks her decision of not marrying Peter Walsh was correct. Peter, after looking at her, gets up to go and Clarissa feels like asking him to take along. She feels very lonely. She asks Peter to remember her party. As Peter goes out, he starts thinking about the way Clarissa introduced her daughter, “My dear Elizabeth”. He feels offended at ‘My’. Reaching at Regent Park, he recalls his childhood. He sits down on a bench and keeps on thinking about Elizabeth, then he falls asleep. When he gets up, he starts remembering how Clarissa had met Richard Dalloway at a dinner party. He also remembers that summer afternoon when Sally cracked the oft-repeated joke about Dalloway: “My name is Dalloway’’. At this Clarissa had got furious and said, “We’ve had enough of that feeble joke”. This had indicated her affection for Richard Dalloway.

The Detailed Account of the Life of Septimus Warren Smith

      Now, the reader is taken to the character of Smiths who are also therein the Regent Park. Lucrezia mortifies herself by thinking why has she left her people for “a dead man”. Septimus, outwardly looking very happy, suddenly declared, “Now we will kill ourselves”. He feels much terrified. Lucrezia tells him to move because they have to go to Dr. William Bradshaw. When Rezia tells him, he starts musing on ‘time’ and getting hallucinations. He sees his dead friend Evans talking to him behind the trees. He cries out ‘for god’s sake don’t come’. He imagines a dead man walking towards him in grey. As they are sitting there Peter Walsh passes them. Rezia looks at him desperately. To Peter, London seems more beautiful. But Clarrissa is perpetually haunting his mind.

      Septimus, before joining the war was a brilliant man, full of ambition, idealism, passion, courage, vanity etc. He was in love with Miss Isabel Pole who had lectured on Shakespeare. When the war had started he was the first to volunteer, went to France in order to save England. There he developed a close friendship with Evans who later on died in the war. But after the war, Septimus has started getting sudden thunder claps of fear especially in the evening. When he came back from there to England with his bride he started wondering if the world had any meaning. Rezia wants to have children because she feels very lonely. Once she cried out in pain but he paid no attention to her. The war had ruined his generation and he has been stunned. He says to Lucrezia that he detests Dr. Holmes. Now he hears, the voice of Evans and the footsteps of approaching death. Rezia, sitting by his side, starts sobbing but he feels nothing and suddenly drops his hands as if signifying complete surrender.

      It is twelve o’clock and Mrs. Dalloway lays her green dress on her bed. On the other hand Mr. Smith and Rezia reaches the house of Sir William Bradshaw. As. Dr. William sees Mr. Smith he understands the fact that it is the case of complete nervous breakdown and physical breakdown with every symptom of advanced stage. Rezia feels greatly disappointed.

Richard Dalloway’s Gift to Clarissa

      After lunch when Richard Dalloway returns with Witbread who tells him about his fancy of a Spanish necklace for his wife Evelyn, Richard Dalloway finds it very odd. But the thought evidently comes to his mind that he has never presented any gift to Mrs. Dalloway. He thinks of buying flowers for Clarissa. He thinks that while presenting flowers to her, he will say ‘I love you’. When he comes back to home, he finds Clarissa very much worried and annoyed. He presents her those flowers and she becomes very happy but Mr. Richard can not bring himself to say that he loves her.

Mrs. Dalloway Insults Miss Kilman.

      Elizabeth opens the door and talks something to Mrs. Dalloway because Miss Kilman, her tutoress has come there to take her along to the stores. Mrs. Dalloway does not like Miss Kilman and thus has resented over everything. Miss Kilman feels deeply hurt at her insult but however, she and Elizabeth go to the stores. Miss Kilman knows it very well that she is ugly and nobody loves her in this world. She often thinks that why is she suffering when the woman like Clarissa escapes. But she rationalizes herself by remembering what Mrs. Whittaker had told her that knowledge comes from suffering. Miss Kilman has only enjoyed the pleasure of eating. After parting from Kilman, Elizabeth is waiting for an omnibus in Victoria Street. She is exquisitely beautiful thus people, often compare her with early dawn, fawn, running water and lilies. This makes her life painful because she wants to be left all alone. She wants to become a doctor or a farmer possibly go to the parliament.

Septimus Commits Suicide

      After very long, Septimus is talking to Rezia and is very normal. He is talking about Mrs. Peter’s hat; Rezia is overjoyed to find him very light and relaxed. He asks her to try that hat on herself. But suddenly he starts getting fits and hears the voices of dead. He remembers that Bradshaw has advised that Smith must be separated from Rezia. He asks Rezia to bring his papers, that he has written. “Burn them.” he cries. But instead Rezia is trying to tie them up and keep that away from him. As she packs those papers, she hears some vices downstairs. It is Dr. Holmes coming to visit Mr. Smith. She tries her best to prevent him but he brushes her aside and makes his way upstairs. In the meantime Septimus recognizes that there is Mr. Holmes. Now he has decided to free himself from the power of Dr. Holmes and Bradshaw. He sees the knife of Mrs. Filmer but he does not want to spoil it. There was no time to take gun, thus he flings himself vigorously and violently down on the railing with crying ‘‘I’ll give it to you”. Dr. Holmes cries out, “The Coward” and bursts the down open. Rezia runs to the window and understands everything. Dr. Holmes asks her to bear everything patiently and gives her something to sleep.

The Mental Conflict of Peter Walsh

      Peter Walsh now reaches his hotel and a lady hands over him some letters. One of them was from Clarrissa who has invited him to the party. “How heavenly it was to see him,” she must tell him that it upsets him and he wishes her not to write like that. That was all in that letter. He thinks why could not Mrs. Dalloway let him be? Thinking thus, he recalls Daisy and thinks that there would be no fuss, no frustration with her. But he thinks that he is over fifty and she is just twenty-four. Obviously, she will have to live like a widow for years, but he keeps everything aside with the thought of leaving the decision of marriage to Daisy.

The Evening Party of Clarissa

      Now the party of Clarissa is started. The Prime Minister also is invited the party. Clarissa is busy in welcoming everybody. She feels surprised to see Sally Seton in the party who was not invited. There is Mrs. Bradshaw also. Lady Bradshaw tells Clarissa that Septimus has killed himself. Thus Mrs. Dalloway feels the presence of dead Smith in her party. She gets annoyed at the talk of someone dead in her party. She finally concludes that life is made intolerable and. these doctors make life intolerable for the men like Septimus. She slips away from the party and goes into a little room in order to be all alone. Peter Walsh gets surprised over Clarissa’s absence but Sally Selton says him that she must be attending her celebrities. Peter sits to chat with Sally. He points out Clarissa’s faults to Sally but all the time wishes her to come over. He says to Sally that Clarissa has cared more for Richard but she corrects him by saying that she has always cared more for him and her married life is not happy one. Now Sally stands to leave. “I will come”, says Peter but he sits for a moment. “What is this ecstacy” causing such excitement. Thus he decides to leave after meeting Clarissa and now Clarissa comes in. Peter finds her pure and adorable with all her faults and shortcomings.

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