Blog 7

I first read Mrs Dalloway when I was 16 and was rather oblivious to the absolute beauty and value of it, actually, I was smart enough to know it was  big deal and when people mentioned it I made I known that I had read the great work of Virginia Woolf, however deep down I didn’t really understand it. As the years passed I would remind myself ‘you have to read it again Sarah, you have to!’ This never happened and so I was delighted when Michael mentioned we were going to take a look at Mrs Dalloway.

I decided to do my own critical piece today because I really want to express a specific part of the book. This is… the first sentence. Writers from all over will you tell you the first line of a book is of so much importance. They have the ability to hold foreshadowing, symbolism, allegories and so much more. I am going to support this view as Woolf’s first sentence is symbolic of a multitude of things that have great links throughout the novel.

“Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

That’s it. only nine words, yet countless layers and ways to unravel it. Straight away the reader can imagine a female from a higher class in society, which is further enforced by the action of the sentence. On the surface, my first thought is that she normally would not buy these herself and that she has someone to do that for her. We find out later that this is, of course, the case. In knowing little historical context, perhaps merely the date the novel was written, 1914? the reader can branch off in many ways of looking at this sentence, including female social structures, societal views, upper-class politics, oppression, and freedom of the mind. In one way or another, all these views can be found in Mrs Dalloway.

Another reading on this sentence that has a significant link with the rest of the book is how Clarissa Dalloway focuses on trivial aspects of life. Her mind is overwhelmed with mundane activities that others would not think twice about. In my opinion, this is a curse and a blessing. Curse in the sense that no observation, thought or action can go on without being analysed and consciously acknowledged. In saying that, sentences like these show that Clarissa is always present which shows a link to Woolf’s writing style, the stream of consciousness.

The motif of flowers is also a major inclusion of Woolf’s novel which readers can recognise as they continue to unravel the life of Clarissa. To include the flower motif in the first sentence of the novel is a deliberate decision by Woolf to introduce their importance. We see this is how different flowers represent different people in the novel. Particularly linking to characters like Clarissa and Septimus.

Overall, through this very shallow analysis, we can see just how much potential and depth this first line holds in Woolf’s work. In only scratching the surface we can see that many themes, symbols and messages lie in this first sentence.


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4 Responses to Blog 7

  1. nprudnicki97 says:

    Hi Sarah!

    It was interesting to read your short analysis of the text, especially because I haven’t read it yet. It seems like an enjoyable read that covers so many important aspects. It is good to know that you’ve read the text before being introduced to it at a uni level and now you will be able to grasp the harder concepts effectively. One thing I suggest is that before you submit your blog just to read over a few sentences which are missing a word or a piece of punctuation. Overall your blog is insightful, especially into the meaning of the first sentence.

    Great Work 🙂


  2. Pingback: Peer Review #6 | Literature Exploration

  3. manizhalalee says:

    Wow Sarah that was most definitely not a shallow analysis but an interesting and rich look into Mrs. Dalloway! You have done so much with only a line from the novel and i think that’s the beauty of Virginia Woolf. How extraordinary she was, that she contained so much within a single line of writing. Your analysis was broad and provided much insight into the novel and you have explained your ideas with careful consideration and wonderful personal insight. The only thing i can really say is that i wish you added a few more visuals to enhance your analysis but thats just some icing, since i quite thoroughly enjoyed your blog and could not find anything else to fault! Fantastic work and i am looking forward to your future work! 🙂


  4. This is a well written, interesting discussion on your experience of Mrs Dalloway. Good work Sarah.


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