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Comment on the sentimentality in Mrs. Dalloway.

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user3521318 | Honors

Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:02 PM via web

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Comment on the sentimentality in Mrs. Dalloway.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 17, 2013 at 6:43 AM (Answer #1)

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"Sentimental" is an adjective that can be defined as "resulting from or coloured by emotion rather than reason." As such, sentimentality is a key aspect of this novel, as characters such as Clarissa normally have sentimental responses to what is going on around them rather than responses that are shaped by reason. This is in part thanks to the particular narrative style of Woolf in this text, as it allows the reader to see the thoughts and feelings of characters and how they respond to events internally. Psychologically, the point of view opens up the workings of the characters' minds to the reader, and as such it allows the characters to be portrayed as primarily sentimental individuals. Consider the following example that comes as Clarissa is walking through town and sees all the omnibuses and people rushing around:

She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.

There is a contrast here between the business of everything that is going on around Clarissa and the feelings of isolation and loneliness that go on within her. The repetition of the word "out" and "very" emphasises her sentimental response to being "out to sea and alone." It is one that makes her despair and focuses her on the fragility of life and how "dangerous" it is. All of the characters are sentimental in that they are shown to respond emotionally to what is going on around them, and therefore sentimentality is a very important feature of this text.

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