Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway.

This was fourth on my reading list. Now after reading Katherine Mansfield’s Prelude I thought a good follow up read would be Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf even though I’ve read Mrs Dalloway before.  For some reason I hadn’t finished it so for this reason it’s on my reading list.

Virginia Woolf talks about mental health issues and the treatments of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). The character Septimus, a former solider experiences hallucinations , paranoia and deals with thoughts about suicide. He blurs reality with the surreal and often has and talks about his incoherent thoughts.  [SPOILER], Septimus kills himself.  I felt this could have been prevented. I felt really bad for his wife but I think Woolf’s intention may have been to highlight the lack of support for those suffering with PTSD, in particular soldiers and the impact it has on their loved ones.  I was upset by Septimus’s suicide even though I knew it was coming. What Woolf reveals by doing this is how mental health conditions were seen and dealt with in that time. It  allows us as readers to think about the importance of having services and support available to those who are experiencing mental illnesses and raising awareness about these conditions. After all a healthy mind allows for a much healthier life.

I like this book but one of the things I actually disliked was Clarissa Dalloway.  A shallow woman to say the least. Her cold indifference to her daughter and the fact that she conveys very little maternal love for her irritated me. The love triangle between Clarissa, Peter and Richard is also quite interesting but to a certain point I felt like yelling with frustration. The characters are too nostalgic about their pasts. I felt as though they were romanticising about the past instead of focusing on the present and the future. Maybe this was Woolf’s intention?  I liked the contrast between Sally Seton’s personality and Clarissa Dalloway’s. I also liked  Miss Kilman, I found her attitude towards Clarissa quite funny.

Overall I did enjoy this book.

Text mentioned:

Woolf, V. (1996). Mrs Dalloway. London: Wordsworth Editions Limited.

Useful links:

For further information about mental health please visit  http://www.mind.org.uk/


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