“Ah dear, she remembered — it was Wednesday in Brook Street. Those kind good fellows, Richard Dalloway, Hugh Whitbread, had gone this hot day through the streets whose growl came up to her lying on the sofa. Power was hers, position, income. She had lived in the forefront of her time. She had had good friends; known the ablest men of her day.
And they went further and further from her, being attached to her by a thin thread (since they had lunched with her) which would stretch and stretch, get thinner and thinner as they walked across London; as if one’s friends were attached to one’s body, after lunching with them, by a thin thread, which (as she dozed there) became hazy with the sound of bells, striking the hour or ringing to service, as a single spider’s thread is blotted with rain- drops, and, burdened, sags down. So she slept.” (Woolf, 91)
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Benediction Classics, Oxford, 2017, pp.91.
Clarissa is reflecting on the connections she has in London. Though it is presented in the third party point of view, readers can tell that Clarissa is considering the end of her relationships with her friends and lovers. She reflects on a a beautiful metaphor of the withering connections.
“She could not even get an echo of her old emotion. But she could remember going cold with excitement, and doing her hair in a kind of ecstasy (now the old feeling began to come back to her, as she took out her hairpins, laid them on the dressing-table, began to do her hair), with the rooks flaunting up and down in the pink evening light, and dressing, and going downstairs, and feeling as she crossed the hall “if it were now to die ’twere now to be most happy.” That was her feeling–Othello’s feeling, and she felt it, she was convinced, as strongly as Shakespeare meant Othello to feel it, all because she was coming down to dinner in a white frock to meet Sally Seton!” (Woolf 38).
Woolf, Virginia, and Bonnie Kime Scott. Mrs. Dalloway. A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 2005.
Clarissa recalls her past affection and feelings for Sally Seton, connecting their strength to Shakespeare’s Othello. She insinuates that her love for Sally was as deep and passionate as Othello’s for Desdemona (at the start of the play), furthering the reader’s understanding of the nature of their relationship.
“‘That is all,’ she repeated, pausing for a moment at the window of a glove shop where, before the War, you could buy almost perfect gloves. And her old Uncle William used to say a lady is known by her shoes and her gloves. He had turned on his bed one morning in the middle of the War. He had said, ‘I have had enough.’ Gloves and shoes; she had a passion for gloves; but her own daughter, her Elizabeth, cared not a straw for either of them.’’
In this passage, Mrs. Dalloway is reminiscing about times before the War, when her Uncle Williams taught her about gloves and shoes. Perhaps her Uncle taking her to good glove shops inspired her liking for gloves that she still has today, but now it seems like she is comparing that passion that her and her Uncle had shared together with the kind of bond that she has with her own daughter, Elizabeth, which seems like not a very strong one, since they do not seem to care about a lot of the same things. Maybe this passage is about how wars can negatively affect the world, since Mrs. Dalloway implies that this glove store she is looking at does not make their gloves as perfectly as they used to, or it could also be about how she wishes to be as close with her daughter as she used to be with Uncle William.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Inc., 1925, page 11.
“Now of course, thought Clarissa, he’s enchanting! perfectly enchanting! Now I remember how impossible it was ever to make up my mind–and why did I make up my mind–not to marry him? she wondered, that awful summer?”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Inc, 1925, page 40.
Looking at Peter Walsh now, Clarissa starts to think of decisions that she has made in the past and tries to remember how she came upon those decisions. She does this because as she is reflecting on her life now, she realizes that she has become unhappy with it and by looking on these decisions in the past and thinking of different paths that she could have chosen, such as wondering why she hadn’t chosen to marry Peter Walsh instead of Richard Dalloway, she thinks that by taking those different paths, her life could have been different than how it is now and perhaps she would have been more happy during this point in her life.
“She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway” (10).
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. Harcourt Inc, 2005.
Clarissa is deindividuated and powerless as “Mrs. Richard Dalloway.” The only fulfilling or interesting parts of her life, finding a husband and having children, are now gone. She has lost any sense of personal identity that comes with her first name, undertaking her husband’s full name instead.