Liberal Views from the 1920s

She resented it, had a scruple picked up Heaven knows where, or, as she felt, sent by Nature (who is invariably wise); yet she could not resist sometimes yielding to the charm of a woman, not a girl, of a woman confessing, as to her they often did, some scrape, come folly. And whether it was pity, or their beauty, or that she was older, or some accident — like a faint scent, or a violin next door (so strange is the power of sounds at certain moments), she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt. Only for a moment; but it was enough.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.:, 1990), 31-2.

Notes: sexual liberty; Woolf is very liberal in her writing of the (believed by many to be, but we cannot ascribe a sexual orientation to a character) bisexuality of Clarissa Dalloway — this is surprising considering the time the novel was written in, but not too surprising given Woolf’s beliefs and experiences. This also depicts the feelings of confusion and certainty that Clarissa experiences in regards to her sexual orientation.

3 thoughts on “Liberal Views from the 1920s

  1. I agree with your opinion that this passage shows Clarissa’s thoughts on sexuality. I also think it is important that she doesn’t criticize how she feels but tries to fully explain it.

    1. This is a very interesting observation, especially given what we know about Virginia Woolf and her own sexuality. I find it interesting that she does not try to suppress it, but rather explain it (as Dalo noted) and embrace it, if only for a moment. This can also be read as “the beauty of everyday experience”, because Clarissa is appreciating all the beauty that lies around her without discounting anything as too trivial or even taboo. Especially given the time period it was written in, I agree that this is impressively liberal.
      Nice observations!

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