Unveiling Societal Dynamics: A Critical Analysis of Gender and Class in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Published: 2024-01-27
Unveiling Societal Dynamics: A Critical Analysis of Gender and Class in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Gender Analysis Society
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 966 words
9 min read

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf was published on 14 May 1925 (Woolf). It talks about the details of Carissa Dalloway's life, a fictional story of a high-society woman after the First World War in England. The novel addresses Carissa's readiness for a ceremony that will be hosted by her that evening. The story's perspective explores the characters' minds to build a picture of Carissa's life and the structure of war socially. In the novel, Woolf talks about the social system which oppresses its citizens, mostly the poor. However, he blames the people who accept to be oppressed and thinks that they must stand up for their rights.

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The social system at work is how the characters portray different traits in the novel and their relationship with their British government. In the book, Woolf criticizes the social system. Firstly, Clarissa is a member of high-class people in society and a politician's wife, but still, she does not control her own life and that around her. Clarissa is among the few individuals who understand the war has completely changed the British's social structure (Woolf 33-176). She is aware that war is slowly building on British soil, even if it is over with the Germans. Mrs. Dalloway asks two questions that look to be apart: 'Is the war over? What right does he have to say "must" to me? (Woolf 33-176). Woolf is attaching the war that is developing in the British Empire to modify the beliefs of gender. Low-class people do not want to live under the rich and powerful pressure, therefore questioning whether the war is over.

Despite the class in which Carissa is, she is still oppressed by men. Therefore she can understand the people in the lower class. The change in British society causes Carissa to question why she should be ordered around by a man. The word "must" is an example in the quote. Clarissa begins to agree with gender relations and social structure (Woolf 33-176). The quote is a perfect example of how Woolf uses Carissa in the right manner by making her the weapon that criticizes gender oppression in society after the war. Clarissa believes that women should not be treated like objects by men. Instead, they should be given the freedom to express themselves. Clarissa is not okay with the way men order women around, men want everything to be done the way they want, but this is not the case for Clarissa. She wants people from the lower class to fight for their rights because she cannot win against men alone.

Most of Woolf's characters position the outside and inside of society at a particular point. The social and financial perspective of Clarissa is a critical component in our society"(Woolf 33-176). Yet real authority is just not within her reach, again as Whitworth shows in his novel, Virginia Woolf, "in terms of class, Clarissa is an insider, but character as a politician's wife 'Mrs. Richard Dalloway places her outside the lean of power"(Woolf 33-176). The quote talks straight to Carissa's role as the stewardess, and she has no permanent contribution to society. Her lack of power is what makes her show empathy for Septimus' situation. When she learned about his death from Mrs. Bradshaw, she understood why Septimus chose to die (Woolf 33-176). She felt for the young man who killed himself. She felt significant to what the man chose to do. Clarissa thinks it was a noble thing for Septimus to kill himself because, given society's circumstances, death is better than being oppressed.

According to many, Clarissa is cruel and with no emotions, but she can still recognize that Septimus has chosen death oppression, which displays admiration of a certain level. He demands freedom of life possessed by none of the characters in the book. The writer brings together the characters saying that oppression after the war in the society was not meant only for the poor (Woolf 33-176). Clarissa's character conveys a sense of justification, as the people believe in themselves and the freedom denied, therefore criticizing oppression in the society that is given within class and gender (Woolf 33-176).

Even if gender and class oppression are being criticized in British society, Woolf says that liberation of sex freedom also can be found. Most of her characters portray a trait of gayness, making her the outsider in her social groups. In terms of gender identity from Whitworth's book, Septimus also is an outsider, and he was weak physically before the war. Still, his manliness grew sexually at the time of war due to his romantic relationship with Evans, his officer, which shows a gay trait in his character.

The social system, according to Woolf, the British people should stand tall for their rights. People should be treated equally, and there should be gender equality not only for the men who have a say, but the women should have their take. Clarissa feels guilty because, being the loyal wife and the hostess, although she agrees with independence, she does not get freedom from tradition. Septimus is the only one who gains freedom in the novel, although it is at the cost of his life.

Woolf concludes that in an imperfect world where one is an outsider for being different, the only way out is through a drastic measure. Septimus chose to die over living a miserable life, while Carissa chose to comply by marrying Richard Dalloway, picking stability over passion (Woolf 33-176). Woolf clearly says that the British Empire has kept a blind eye to its faults, and characters such as Bradshaw see themselves as honorable men of society, while they only care about themselves in a real sense

Work Cited

Woolf, Virginia. "Mrs. Dalloway." Collected Novels of Virginia Woolf. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 1992. 33-176. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349

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Unveiling Societal Dynamics: A Critical Analysis of Gender and Class in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. (2024, Jan 27). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/unveiling-societal-dynamics-a-critical-analysis-of-gender-and-class-in-mrs-dalloway-by-virginia-woolf

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