the theme of madness in mrs dalloway

1443 WordsNov 10, 20136 Pages
Madness in Mrs Dalloway Madness is a prevalent theme in ‘Mrs Dallway’ and is expressed primarily, and perhaps most obviously through the characters Septimus Warren Smith and Clarissa Dalloway – however the theme is also explored more subtly in more minor characters such as Lucrezia and Mrs Kilman. Virgina Woolf’s own issues inspired her greatly, as she herself suffered her first mental breakdown at the tender age of thirteen and was prescribed ‘rest cure’ – just as Septimus is; Woolf is often described as a ‘mad genius’ as she was declared mentally ill at an early stage in her life -- this intense and troubling lifestyle of erratic nervous breakdowns coupled with her substantial involvement in the Bloomsbury group in ‘the early…show more content…
The word ‘sin’ is also symbolic because throughout the novel, there are religious connotations surrounding Septimus, culminating in his suicide where he dies like Jesus – and this could be one of Woolf’s ways of foreshadowing his death. Septimus himself doesn’t consider himself mad, whilst considering the ‘excitement of the elm trees rising and falling, rising and falling with all their leaves alight’ – Septimus thinks that it ‘would have sent him mad’ but then he comes to the conclusion that ‘he would not go mad. He would shut his eyes; he would see no more.’ Having experienced sheer terror, Septimus is clearly very moved by visions of beauty; the trees are very suggestive to him, just as flowers are suggestive to Clarissa. Woolf uses foreshadowing here, she structures this quote before Septimus’s eventual suicide, and the image of him shutting his eyes to shroud his vision is symbolic of his death – the quote also has a defiant and triumphant tone, which mirrors the freedom that both Septimus and Clarissa gain from his decision. The most significant aspect related to sanity and insanity that Virginia describes in the novel relates to the “Proportion and Conversion” that the modernist British society and its various authorities believed in. Whereas the concept of Proportion, as used in the novel, signifies a person’s ability to think
Open Document