Mrs. Dalloway Part 6 Summary and Analysis

Virginia Woolf

Part 6 Summary and Analysis

Summary
Peter wakes with the words “the death of the soul.” Images crowd thick and fast, as the narrator relates Peter’s dreams. The words Peter spoke as he awakened are connected to his dreams about Bourton, and the summer long ago when he loved Clarissa. A minor scandal about class and marriage caused a rift that stuck in Peter’s mind. He thinks of it as the beginning of the end for so many perfect friendships. He remembers Clarissa’s close relationship with Sally Seton, despite the difficulties that arose between them.

Richard Dalloway comes into Peter’s thoughts, as the man he was sure that Clarissa would marry; Peter was right. The pain he felt, even at that moment, was intense, and what happened over the next few days did nothing to lessen it. Even the few happy moments he had were spoiled by his realization that he would lose Clarissa to Richard.

Finally he confronted Clarissa in the garden. Although the conversation is not included by the narrator, its content is implied. His predictions were correct, and Clarissa had shut him out of her emotions.

Analysis
This is the first reading section to take place almost entirely in the past. The narrator explains the past events to which Clarissa and Peter have been referring, from the point of view of Peter’s dreams. The explanation does much to explain Peter’s feelings during his earlier conversation with Clarissa. The dream summary is like a history lesson. By following what happened long before, we can see why the characters feel as they do now.