Notes on Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
The story of Mrs. Dalloway unfolds against the metronome of Big Ben striking out time. Individual moments are made static against a fluid background of ever advancing time. And how does one reconcile the dissonance between memories of static moments against a reality that is always flowing in one direction. The man made world, Big Ben, the shops and sights of London seem to indicate that time only moves in one direction but our inner world is always moving in multiple directions simultaneously. There is dissonance between the outer world and the inner world especially with regard to the perception of how time proceeds. The characters live in a world in which time appears to move only in one direction but a deeper seeing, memories and awareness of individual moments don’t seem to validate or support that time is only moving in one direction.
The difficulty of deciding what is important is increased because of this dissonance. If outwardly we perceive time to be always rushing forward, we too must rush with it, anticipating the next moment, always waiting for something. But if our inner world tells us time is much more fluid than this, where then do we focus out attention. The rush of the outer world tells us we are mistaken, irresponsible even, to focus on the present moment. As such, the characters, each in their own way are asking: “What is enough?”
What is meant by proportion? Odd that while it seems to stem from propriety, the root is different. Is the meaning still implied though?
Septimus: most interesting character for me next to Mrs. D. Does he parallel Sally, Peter’s and Clarissa’s failed attempts at life lived outside of proportion?