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What truth becomes clear to Clarissa, in Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, on Septimus’s death?

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ninniclements | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:18 AM via web

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What truth becomes clear to Clarissa, in Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, on Septimus’s death?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 26, 2012 at 5:55 PM (Answer #1)

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In Virginia Woolf'sMrs. Dallowaythe main character, Clarissa, is a woman whose class and status in society, as well as her upbringing, has deprived her of a much-needed separate time for self-contemplation. As a result, it is safe to say that Clarissa has lived a life of regrets, where she realizes that the biggest mistake that she has done is to allow her life to be taken over by the rules and regulations of her social circles.

Septimus is a shell-shocked War veteran whose mental condition renders him unable to enjoy anything. He lives in terror, and is limited by the memories that haunt him. Like Mrs. Dalloway, he too has been deprived of a fulfilled life. Instead, he merely goes along with what the world throws at him, always in fear of the memories that may come back.

When Septimus commits suicide he does not do it in a moment of sudden despair, but in order to avoid being manhandled and dominated by his good-for-nothing physician, Dr. Holmes. True, the trauma does motivate Septimus's actions but it is mostly the need that he has to be left alone to (like his mirror character, Mrs. Dalloway) meditate upon his life. When the news reach Mrs. Dalloway she, in her limited, encased, and minimalistic knowledge of the world and of herself, feels that what Septimus did was an act of valor; sacrificing his life or, like the narrative says, a death of the body to save the death of the soul.

She understands the choice of suicide. Her busy habits and parties seem like unworthy trifles, while suicide is a statement about life. She senses the great chasm between those who make this statement and herself."

Perhaps life is worth living the way that it is, however, whenever there is a chance for inner freedom, one must plunge into it, and take it.

But what an extraordinary night! She felt somehow very like him – the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away.

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