“Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf: Clarissa Dalloway


Summarily, Clarissa Dalloway is a character in the novel “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf is portrayed as the main character of the novel. She evidently struggles to constantly balance both her external and internal lives reflected in the novel. Clarissa’s life basically revolves around glittering surfaces like parties, high society and fashion of highest quality. However, despite this, Clarissa moves towards a world of much more meaning that she yearns for (Woolf, 37). Clarissa yearns for a private life by virtue of her tendency of introspection that consequently results to her emotions that are evidently absent in the rest of the novel’s characters. This evidently makes her appear to be shallow even to those who knew her very well. In the novel, Clarissa constantly reflects on the past and present. She attempts to make reconciliation between her past life and the present life to the positive despite her potent old memories.

Loneliness (Private and political life of Clarissa Dalloway)

Throughout the novel it is evident that Clarissa Dalloway is lonely both in her private and political life. In her private life, Clarissa’s perception of death and aging is with trepidation despite the fact that she engages in life-affirming activities like purchasing flowers. The author creates Clarissa as a character with an immense sense of being aware that one has to live one day at a time (Woolf, 16). Clarissa evidently has a heightened perception of existence in that; she has fear that the existence she loves so much will one day be terminated (Woolf,38). This loneliness she feels is portrayed in the way her bedroom is isolated. The bedroom’s image reveals loneliness as well as death in that, Clarissa thinks that the bed which once symbolized fertility in her marriage no longer did (Woolf,40).Clarissa relies only on herself and has a perpetual sense while looking at taxi cabs.

Clarissa felt lonely, far away at the sea and also believed that there existed. The novel reveals how Clarissa is in doubt about most of the decisions she made in the past that consequently shaped her current life. One of these decisions is the fact that she married Richard as opposed to marrying Peter Walsh. She is now of the view that her life with Walsh could have been difficult but full of passion. Instead, she married Richard merely because of security as well as tranquility that belong to the upper-class lifestyle. This makes Clarissa wish for another chance to live her life again and correct the mistakes she made earlier. Watching her old neighbor via her window gives her peace and clarity which at the end of the day reminds her that one day she must embrace death. Clarissa has a strong will to endure despite encountering oppressive forces in her life. She accepts the kind of life she has and the fact that it is all she has and thus must life it to the fullest (Woolf, 3).

In terms of politics, Clarissa Dalloway’s loneliness is portrayed in the way she sought to provide a means to which people converse. Clarissa evidently sought to maintain an image of one who belonged in the upper-class. She was determined to set a good atmosphere which will enable her to interact with her close friends through a party. The party can be said to have been one of her excuses that enabled her to mingle with Sally, Peter and other people. Although Clarissa is not comfortable with having all the people in her house, she wishes that people would get to know her better (Woolf, 149). The party is attended by fiends and also political figures like the prime minister of London.

In the novel, Clarissa’s Aunt Parry also arrives at the party and is taken to be a representation of the end of the old political way of life. The old lady often recalled her days spent in Burma hen British colonialism was at its height. The situation was now different in that, colonies were gaining independence as commented by lady Bruton. Lady Bruton also talks about the Labor Party’s ascend which represented the rule of the nation by the people and for the people as opposed to a rule by a class of aristocrats. People ought to do something and thus be something (Woolf, 84).This novel was set during the times of vast political and social upheaval. This was five years after the First World War and thus Britain had been crippled by the economic impact, which led to the socialist imposition of labor government so as to save the empire from collapsing. People were therefore more open to political changes and were not restrained by sexuality as before. Clarissa seeks to remedy problems in the society through Whitehall and parliament. Clarissa is said to have cared more about roses than the Armenians (Woolf, 132) due to her way of demonstrating alarming political empathy.

How the two spheres inform each other

The fact that Clarissa Dalloway’s loneliness in the novel is portrayed both in her private and political life creates a connection between the two. Clarissa’s private life depicted how lonely she felt on her own and consequently informs much on her political life behavior. It is her loneliness in her private life that makes her want to interact with others, to understand who part of her life is today for life could come to an end anytime. This is one of the reasons Clarissa held the party at her house and hosted several friends and political figures like the prime minister. Clarissa is seen struggling to open up a pathway for interaction between people by organizing parties where people could gather. Clarissa sees the old woman in the neighboring house as independent since she has her house by herself but also imagines how lonely she must feel. In another instance in the novel, Clarissa watches the taxi cabs and saw herself as being far away in the sea, alone (Woolf,8). Clarissa further portrays her loneliness hen the original color of her dress is seen to be lost after it is reflected in the sun (Woolf, 37). The sun in this case represented the outside or external world to which Clarissa had not been exposed to and thus wished to be free from her role as a hostess in the society. Clarissa thus hosts a party where many interact and much about the disillusionment of the British Empire is revealed. Mrs. Bruton for example reveals her interest in politics than in people (Woolf, 116) here she utilizes her position in influencing politicians to act in accordance to what she thinks they ought to. This sphere of Clarissa’s private loneliness informs the sphere of political loneliness that one ought to mingle with others, to interact and live in the current political ways where men and women were all considered equal as opposed to the colonialism era when the reverse was true.


In a nutshell, the novel “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf reveals Clarissa’s loneliness both in her private and political life. He private life is to the effect that, she feels that she is far away from the real life she ought to be living in that, she is a societal hostess and thus desires her freedom from being that. She has not been exposed to the external life (Woolf, 37) so as to know her true self and thus feels lonely that she cannot do as she pleases because she must maintain her position in the society of the high class. Her private life is so lonely that she fears about when death will occur and thus lives one day at a time. This makes her consequently reveal her political loneliness by virtue of the party she makes n her house where she hosts her friends and other people in the society. This is basically so that people can be able to gather and interact together about the political changes at that time. Critically, Clarissa can also be said to have organized the said party to kill her boredom and loneliness on her own private life.

Works Cited

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925.