Mrs. Dalloway Questions and Answers
by Virginia Woolf

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How does marxist critism apply to Mrs. Dalloway?

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Eleanora Howe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Specifically, I think you could approach a Marxist reading of Mrs. Dalloway by analyzing Clarissa Dalloway's relationship to Miss Kilman. A working single woman who scrapes by financially through tutoring and emotionally through religious fanaticism, Miss Kilman is in many ways the opposite of Clarissa Dalloway. Miss Kilman was not blessed with good looks or financial fortune like Clarissa, and she understandably finds it more difficult than Clarissa to enjoy life to the fullest. The narrative often highlights Miss Kilman's ugliness and unattractiveness, with her at one point looking like "some prehistoric monster" from Clarissa's perspective (126). This insistence on Miss Kilman's impoverished ugliness contrasted with Clarissa's wealthy attractiveness should give us pause as Marxist readers. Why should the working classes be characterized in such unattractive terms, appearing more...

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Akannan is absolutely right. May I add something more, if you please? thanks: Many Marxist and Leninist works are based on the concept of Imperialism. A parallel can be easily drawn here, if you consider the period of time Mrs. Dalloway lives. After the first World War, many things changed in the commonwealth and colonies gained more power, which weakened the Empire (you might want to check the reasons of this (economic ones for instance)). Also Imperialism means the domination of one nation among others, which was the case with India, where Peter Walsh lived. While Peter is proud of the level of "civilization" UK achieved, Clarissa feels the opposite way. The Empire is also flawed in the eyes of Septimus, who fought for it during the war, but he does not know the reason why he fought. Septimus fought for his country but his country failed him.