Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway Essay

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Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway “Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.” -Jules de Gaultier Set just after one of England’s worst tragedies, Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway is a vivid picture of the effects of World War I on London’s high society, often in glaring contrast to the effects of shell shock suffered by war veteran Septimus Smith. For members of high society, the War’s impact is largely indirect, mainly affecting their conversations at posh social functions. Although the war has had little impact on these people, some strive to develop a deeper understanding of the War’s main consequence: death. For Septimus, who has endured the direct impact of the War as a soldier, however, the memories…show more content…
Although a small point, it is necessary to add that even Septimus’s wife, Rezia, though not in the same social circle as Clarissa, sees the impacts of the War as ordinary. When reflecting on Septimus’s tendency to talk to his dead friend, Evans, Rezia thinks, “[Evans] had seemed a nice quiet man; a great friend of Septimus’s, and he had been killed in the War. But such things happen to everyone. Everyone has friends who were killed in the War” (64). This statement is to Rezia a mere fact, which highlights that she, like those in Clarissa’s circle, is also blissfully ignorant of the horrors involved in the War, drawing attention to the insurmountable gulf that exists between Septimus’s experience of the War, and everyone else’s imagined perception of it. Indeed, the relaying of information as mentioned above often serves as entertainment for the upper class throughout the novel, even if the entertainment is derived from such a serious topic as war-related casualties. Even though millions were killed, and many injured, Clarissa’s class typically cannot comprehend the brutality experienced by soldiers in combat, much less the unrelenting stresses and images that follow them long after they have left the battlefield. However, high society cannot ignore such cases of human suffering, so they become a sort of fashionable topic. At Clarissa’s party, for example, Lady Bradshaw treats the subject almost casually,
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