Mrs. Dalloway Discussion


“…for what can one know even of the people one lives with every day? she asked. Are we not all prisoners? She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched on the wall of his cell, and she had felt that was true of life–one scratched on the wall.”
-from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Harcourt Inc. 1925
This blog is intended to start a discussion of the book Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Click on the “Continue Reading…” link below to view some questions for discussion. If you’ve read the book, feel free to join in and share your thoughts.
Overall, I think this was an excellent book and, if you like literature and haven’t read it yet, you should. It looks like a quick read, but because this book is written with a different approach than most other books, it takes a bit more from the reader to get through it…but it’s totally worth it.
The next discussion book will be The Hours by Michael Cunningham. If you want to get in on this book discussion, you just need to get your copy and read it! I’m guessing we’ll start discussing it around August 9th, 2003.
Click below to join!

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – (Selected Questions from the) Reading Group Guide
These questions are just to serve as a guide and to get you thinking. Feel free to add thoughts not related to the questions, or to avoid them altogether.
1.) Why, and how does Woolf handle the transitions from one point of view to another? How do the shifting points of view, together with that of the author, combine to create a portrait of Clarissa and her milieu?
2.) What was Clarissa’s relationship with Sally Seton? What is the significance of Sally’s reentry into Clarissa’s life after so much time? What role does Sally play in Clarissa’s past and in her present?
3.) What is Woolf’s purpose in creating a range of female characters of various ages and social classes–from Clarissa herself and Lady Millicent Burton to Sally Seton, Doris Kilman, Lucrezia Smith, and Maisie Johnson? Does she present a comparable range of male characters?
4.) As the day and the novel proceed, the hours and half hours are sounded by a variety of clocks (for instance, Big Ben strikes noon at the novel’s exact midpoint). What is the effect of the time being constantly announced on the novel’s structure and on our sense of the pace of the characters’ lives?
5.) Woolf shifts scenes between past and present, primarily through Clarissa’s, Septimus’s, and others’ memories. Does this device successfully establish the importance of the past as a shaping influence on and an informing component of the present? Which characters promote this idea? Does Woolf seem to believe this holds true for individuals as it does for society as a whole?