Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Historical and Cultural Context

In the years following World War I, Britain was a nation transformed. Mrs. Dalloway, set in 1923, captures the essence of a society grappling with the devastating aftermath of the war. The trauma had left an indelible mark, with many soldiers returning home haunted by the horrors they had witnessed. This collective suffering led to an outpouring of societal introspection, and traditional values and roles found themselves under intense scrutiny.

During this period, literature and the arts were undergoing a revolution of their own. Modernism was the order of the day. Writers like Virginia Woolf were pushing the boundaries of storytelling, moving away from traditional narratives and embracing techniques like stream-of-consciousness. They sought to capture the intricate dance of human thought and the complexities of the mind.

Parallel to this artistic evolution was a seismic shift in women's roles in society. The early 20th century had witnessed the relentless rise of the suffrage movement. By the time Mrs. Dalloway was published, women had not only won the right to vote but were challenging and redefining their places in society. The novel's protagonist, navigating this changing world, embodies these societal changes.

Much of Woolf's perspective and insight can be attributed to her association with the Bloomsbury Group. This influential circle of London-based intellectuals, writers, and artists championed progressive ideas on everything from art to sexuality. Their vibrant discussions and shared values left a deep imprint on Woolf's writings, infusing Mrs. Dalloway with a richness borne of these intellectual exchanges.

A. 1918

B. 1915

C. 1923

D. 1928

A. Romanticism

B. Postmodernism

C. Realism

D. Modernism

A. Linear narrative

B. Flashbacks

C. Stream-of-consciousness

D. First-person perspective

A. Women started working in factories.

B. Women gained the right to vote.

C. Women were encouraged to stay at home.

D. Women were barred from universities.

DISCUSSION:  Mrs. Dalloway uses a special way of showing a character's thoughts. Why is this interesting? Do you know any other stories like this?

Further reading