What is the significance of the title Mrs. Dalloway?

The title Mrs. Dalloway is significant because it shows that, in the traditional society in which she lives, Clarissa's identity is bound up with that of her husband. The title also highlights the fact that Clarissa has chosen to be married to someone rich, socially prominent, and well-connected. Furthermore, it shows the centrality of her character in this multi-perspective novel.

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It would be easy to say that the novel is titled Mrs. Dalloway because it is the name of the main character; and while this is true, it does not adequately convey just how central Mrs. Dalloway herself is to the novel, bringing together the different perspectives and themes. She is so central, in fact, that her name replaced the working title.

Woolf's working title for Mrs. Dalloway was The Hours: the novel chronicles the hours of a single day, marked by the chiming of Big Ben, as experienced inwardly by a variety of different characters. She wrote, too, that her novel was meant to be "a study of the world seen by sane and insane side by side." As such, she created the "sane" Mrs. Dalloway and the shell-shocked Septimus Smith as the novel's two primary studies.

While Woolf does not explicitly explain her change of title, her life and the novel itself offers clues. Mrs. Dalloway emerges, in fact, as the central character, the force tying together the disparate strands of the...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on August 10, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on August 10, 2020