Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 434
Waking suddenly, Peter considers the park. He sees the Smith couple in their distress.
The story shifts from Peter’s point of view to Lucrezia’s thoughts. It is almost time for Septimus’ appointment with Sir William Bradshaw, the second doctor examining Septimus. Dr. Holmes cannot do anything for Septimus, and calls in the eminent Sir William.
Lucrezia frets over her marriage and her life. Although she wants to love her husband, she is indignant about her suffering, and thinks about the way her life was before Septimus. Lucrezia asks herself why she should suffer so. She knows that Septimus saw horrible things in the war, and lost a close friend, Evans, whom he had met there. However, everyone saw horrible things in the war, and she does not understand her husband’s reactions. Her expressions of sorrow alienate Septimus even further. He feels completely alone and trapped.
Septimus experiences many hallucinations, and his state of mind is fragmented, paranoid and delusional. He writes down messages he is convinced are being sent to him, and he feels that his task is to deliver these truths to the world. He is apprehensive about seeing and talking with Evans.
Finally, Lucrezia returns him to reality by reminding him that they have to be moving on to their appointment. Septimus obeys reluctantly, and wonders if Lucrezia is plotting against him.
This reading section provides another window into a character’s mind. As we have seen Clarissa’s and Peter’s mental workings, now we have insights into what makes Septimus tick. The only conclusion we can come to is that his inner clock has malfunctioned.
As mentioned earlier, the psychology of war veterans was unknown in 1923, the year in which Mrs. Dalloway is set. World War I was known for its abominable trench warfare, which kept soldiers in such conditions that physically unharmed men went home utterly destroyed by the war. Leonard Woolf and others have said that these sections recreate the psychotic mind, reflecting Virginia Woolf’s own fits of madness. Some have suggested that Septimus’ fixation on Evans is based on his having fallen in love with Evans, but there is no reliable evidence of this.
Lucrezia is compared to a bird in this reading section, just as Clarissa was thought of as bird-like by Scrope Purvis at the beginning of the novel. The image occurs elsewhere as well, and there are several possible interpretations of this. Birds are generally thought to be free of earthly forces while still at the mercy of the winds. This idea touches on elements of both women.
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