Sample Essay Outlines

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 624

The following paper topics are based on the entire book. Following each topic is a thesis and a sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

Topic # 1
Pick three of the characters and summarize why they might be unhappy. Then compare your findings: What do these factors have in common? How do the characters respond to what bothers them?

I. Thesis Statement: Each of the main characters is unhappy about some aspect of his or her life. These subjects vary widely, yet are comparable.

II. Clarissa is unhappy about how she appears to others.
A. She feels that she is unattractive.
B. She feels unpopular.
C. She feels that her parties may be a shallow interest.
D. She lacks confidence.

III. Peter Walsh is unhappy about the choices he has made.
A. He loved Clarissa, but lost her.
B. He is in love with a married woman, which is complex.
C. He has not followed a straight course of career.
D. He feels that he has no foundation in life.

IV. Lucrezia Warren Smith is unhappy about her marriage.
A. She feels that Septimus does not want to get better.
B. She wants to have children.
C. She thinks about her life before she was married.
D. She feels abandoned and cut off from what she knows.

Topic #2
Pick a relationship between two characters and discuss it. How do these two characters know each other, and how has their history together progressed? What mistakes have they made in knowing the other?

I. Thesis Statement: The relationships between two characters show the histories of the individuals involved, and the triumphs and mistakes they have made.

II. Clarissa and Peter
A. Peter once loved Clarissa, but she married Richard.
B. She hardly thinks of Peter, but he thinks of her all the time.
C. Having lived in India, he now loves a married woman.
D. When they see each other, they feel strong emotions.

III. Clarissa and Richard
A. Richard’s stability complements Clarissa’s flightiness.
B. Richard, somewhat unemotional, allows his wife privacy.
C. They have different interests.
D. They do not seem to communicate much, but when Richard brings flowers, we see a deep bond.

IV. Clarissa and Sally
A. Sally is an important part of Clarissa’s memories.
B. Clarissa thinks she might have been in love with Sally.
C. Sally shows up unexpectedly at Clarissa’s party.
D. Sally has changed, and, although she has often invited Clarissa for a visit, the latter has declined.

Topic #3
The descriptions of London contrast with the interior landscapes of many of the characters. How do the histories of the city and of the characters create their current situations?

I. Thesis Statement: Both London and the characters living within it are the products of their pasts.

II. London is peaceful.
A. All the descriptions of the city emphasize the serenity.
B. Even so, everyone has fresh memories of the recent war.
C. When an airplane is heard, people become tense automatically.
D. People rely on their traditions of rulers and empire.

III. Clarissa Dalloway’s past is in Bourton.
A. The home she grew up in is important to her.
B. She feels that her daughter is in religious trouble.
C. She is not sure that her life has meaning.
D. The answers to her problems are within her control.

IV. Peter Walsh’s past is an important part of his present.
A. Peter thinks about Clarissa often.
B. He admits that his feelings about her have had a negative effect on his life.
C. Others think that his life has been a failure.
D. At the same time, he knows that there is something different, and special, about himself.

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