The whole novel has been building to the culmination of Mrs. Dalloway's party. Mrs. Dalloway has spent the day preparing for it, and as she has done so, we have followed her thoughts--her stream of consciousness--as well as her outward activities, so by the time the party starts, we have a strong sense of who she is and who the players are in her life, though we have only "known" her a few hours.
At the party, these various strands come together. On one level, the party, attended by the prime minister and a host of lords and ladies, represents a pinnacle of Mrs. Dalloway's "career" as a successful society hostess. Her lot in life may be narrow, and differ from her broader hopes as a young girl, but she carries it off beautifully--and Woolf illustrates that it is not nothing, this woman's world of the successful party.
The party also brings together so many characters from Clarissa's past and present intermingled: Peter Walsh, who showed up earlier in the day, and Clarissa's early love,...
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