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Fiche de lecture : Mrs. Dalloway-Virginia Woolf.

The author: Virginia Woolf is an English Novelist who was born in 1882 in an upper-middle-class family in London. she was educated at home and read books from her fathers library. But after her mothers death, she suffered from severe depression for the rest of her life. Her first novel, The voyage out, was published in 1915. During the next few years, Woolf wrote several novels, a collection of short stories and essays. Woolf criticizes the realistic Victorian novel which is founded on a linear plot and which is inadequate to express subjective reality and characters feelings. In Woolf Opinion, the world changed and the traditional Victorian novel cant describe the present world. Thats why, in the 1920s she began searching for the form that would reflect the genuine world around her. Mrs. Dalloway was published in 1925. In this novel, Woolf discovered a new literary form capable of expressing the new realities of postwar England. The story is based on the steam consciousness of the character. It depicts the inner feelings, the subjective experience and memories of its central character over a single day in the after WWI London. The stream consciousness is one of the main characteristics of Woolfs literature. The plot: There is not a genuine plot in the novel like traditional novel: beginning, development, hardships, conclusion. In Mrs. Dalloway , its just the point of view which changes over the story. Mrs. Dalloway covers one day from morning to night in one womans life, Clarissa Dalloway in London. She has to prepare a party and met an old friend, Peter Walsh who still obsessed by the refusal of Clarissa about his marriage proposal. Then, the point of view changed to Septimus, a veteran of world war I Who was morally shattered and has serious mental problem. The psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw wants to send him in an asylum. At the same time, Clarissa thinks about her relationship with Richard, her husband just after he offered her a bunch of roses. Then, in Septimus house, a doctor arrives to take him away and septimus committed suicide. Eventually, most of the novels characters are assembled to Clarissas party. The themes: -The notion of time in the novel: Woolf creates a new novelistic structure in Mrs. Dalloway, her style blends dream and reality, present and past. Her character behaves like a genuine human being simultaneously flowing from the conscious to the unconscious, from the fantastic to the real and from memory to the moment. - a social commentary: Virginia Woolf wants also to illustrate the vain artificiality of Clarissas life and her involvement in it. The novel depicts thanks to the preparation of a simple social event the lifestyle of Englands upper classes at the time of the novel. Even if Clarissa is effected by Septimus death, she is also a woman for whom a party is her greater offering to society. -the fear of death: Middle-aged Clarissa has experienced the deaths of her father, mother and sister and has lived during the war. Death is very naturally in her thoughts. Peter Walsh who is insecure in his identity is obsessed by the idea of death and follows a young woman to forget about it. Eventually, The character of Septimus is faces death more directly since he committed suicide.

-Oppression: This theme is represented especially by Clarissa and Septimus. Septimus dies in order to escape to an oppressive social pressure which doesnt want him.Clarissa herself lives under the weight of that system and often feels oppressed by it. English society makes her, in part, responsible for Septimus death and she accepts responsibility. So, she can be considered as an oppressor.

The main characters: -Clarissa Dalloway: She is the protagonist of the story. She is analyzed in terms of her life, personality. She is viewed from many angles. She constantly overlaying past and present. She is touched by the people around her. Clarissa is a representative of the upper English class but she defies categorization because of her humanity. She is superficially based on Woolfs childhood friend, Kitty Marxe. - Septimus Warren Smith: He is considered as the double of Clarissa. He was a bright young man before WWI. He was morally shattered by the war. And after, he hears voices of his friend killed during the war. The doctor wanted to send him to asylum and when Dr. Holmes pushes into his home to see him, Septimus throws himself out the window to his death. -Peter Walsh: Ex Boyfriend of Clarissa. He doesnt see Clarissa often after their break up. He had moved to India, married, separated. He is still in love with Clarissa and his life was ruined by the refusal of her about his marriage proposal. He goes to the party just to speak with her. But he Detests Clarissas bourgeois lifestyle and he blames Richard, her husband for making her into the kind of woman she is. -Sally Setton: As a young woman, she was Clarissas best friend. She exists only as a figure in Clarissas memory for most of the novel. They used to make outrageous claims like smoking cigars, run naked down the halls. When she appears at Clarissas party, she is older but still familiar. Sally has always been more of a free spirit than Clarissa and when she arrives at Clarissas party she feels rather distant from and confused by the life Clarissa has chosen.