Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway”, A Moment of Connection to Literature

“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.

Commonplace-Book Entry: “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf, The Effects of Decisions in the Past

“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.