What role does Sally Seton play in Clarissa’s life, in Woolf's Mrs Dalloway?

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Sally Seton has a huge influence on Clarissa Dalloway's character when the two are young women and part of the same circle of friends. In the present day of the novel, both women are married and living fairly sedate, proper lives. The novel, however, uses stream-of-consciousness technique to tap into Clarissa's memories of her younger days as she prepares for a party she is throwing that evening.

It is implied in the novel that Clarissa was attracted to Sally and that her relationship with Sally was her first experience with true desire. Even though both women end up marrying men, Clarissa suggests that the sexual tension and attraction she feels for Sally are different than that of any romantic relationship she's had with a man, including her own husband. Clarissa and Sally kissed at one point, and Clarissa calls this kiss "the most exquisite moment of her whole life." Sally also represented a break from the norms for Clarissa. While friends with Sally, Clarissa was able to be more carefree and rebellious. Now, as Mrs. Dalloway, she is defined by her roles as wife, mother, and perfect party host. When Sally shows up at the party near the end of the novel, Clarissa seems disappointed to learn that Sally's life has turned out to be fairly ordinary; Clarissa expected more of her and thought of Sally as a kind of ideal or a fantasy.

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Sally Seton, Lady Rosseter, plays a big role in Clarissa's life. A childhood friend of the now Mrs. Dalloway, Sally is a product of the working classes. Once much lower in social rank than Clarissa, Sally was red-blooded, rowdy, rebellious, and quite idealistic for a girl who is meant to be "down-to-earth" in comparison to Clarissa.

In Sally, Clarissa was able to free her real thoughts and emotions. Sally was her leader in free thought, free speech, and free ideas. Together they had planned many things for the future. There is also a strong indication that Sally's masculine energy played a role in Clarissa's developing sexuality, as the two had a Platonic, yet, sexually tense friendship.

Now Lady Rosseter, Sally is basically living like the people she once judged as a young rebel. However, she maintains her working class sense of fairness and analysis. She does not at all fulfill the role of the martyred wife and mother that Clarissa seems to exemplify and this clearly might be another eye opener for the latter.

In all, Sally is a foil of Clarissa; the childhood friend who vows to break with every established paradigm and social construct of the day. She is in one way Clarissa's philosophical liberator.

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In Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, what role does Sally play in Clarissa's past and in her present?

Sally Setton, also known as Lady Rosseter, is Mrs. Dalloway's lifelong friend. Ever since she and Clarissa were adolescent, Sally was the foil to Clarissa's character, representing, doing, and acting like everything that Clarissa's much more demure nature would prevent.

As Clarissa's foil, Sally complemented her best friend's personality so well that Clarissa developed a strong connection with her....

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This is because Sally, in a dramatic contrast to Clarissa, was vibrant, daring, extroverted, and full of life.

Her energy was clearly masculine, as she would instill upon Clarissa a sense of dominance and protection, that resulted in what could be deemed as a platonic love affair between the two young women. However, as females in the male-dominated society of Post WWI England, their duty was to grow up, marry well, and claim a role within the upper-class set.

As older women, Sally and Clarissa continue to be friends although they had not seen each other for a long time before Clarissa's party. Although times have changed Sally and made her less impetuous, abrasive, and idealistic, she is still quite resolved in terms of how and what she thinks. Again, Sally is once more everything that Clarissa would have been had she been a more liberated and less self-constrained woman. Sally is certainly as complementary to Clarissa at an older age as she was when they were younger. Therefore, the role of Sally is to serve as Clarissa's true self; the woman that thinks, acts, and speaks the way in which Clarissa would very much want to have the courage to do.

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