The Effects of Society in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway Essay

3075 Words 13 Pages
Society is a constant changing idea, whether that change be from region to region or a period of time. People move through it without thinking what they really are doing. Often they do not realize how much pressure society places on one’s being. It is the basis of how a person forms their opinions, beliefs, and morals. The structure of behavior rests in the society one is raised in. People’s acceptance of one another and a desire to conform create a world where people are struggling to fit in. Virginia Woolf sees this.

Woolf views society as a center for conflict for the characters in her novel. They struggle with the internal dilemma of whether they should be who they want to be or what everyone else wants them to be. In the
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Septimus is afraid that if he allows any emotion to penetrate him, whether that be joy or sorrow, then he will be forced to deal with the loss of his friend. As Emily Jensen states, “war cuts short Septimus’s first feelings for Evans, and because he does not understand the meaning of that relationship, he participates in what becomes a frustration of his ability to feel at all.” (426) The idea that Jensen describes is an example of why Septimus refuses to feel any emotion. The frustration comes from the moment when Evans was killed and Septimus felt nothing. This is found when Woolf says:

“…when Evans was killed, just before Armistice, in Italy, Septimus, far from showing any emotion or recognizing that here was the end of a friendship congratulated himself upon feeling very little and very reasonably. The War had taught him. It was sublime. He had gone through the whole show, friendship, European War, death, had won promotion, was still under thirty and was bound to survive. He was right there. The last shells missed him. He watched them explode with indifference.” (130)

When Septimus does not feel anything when watching his friend die, he retracts himself from not only his own feelings but also the feelings of everyone else. A fear of acceptance of Evan’s death is what pushed Septimus to create a world where there is no feeling whatsoever. As Molly Hoff stated, “Septimus is irredeemably alone, because he has completely shut himself