The Shattered Mind of a Roman

“I am alone; I am alone! she cried, by the fountain in Regent’s Park (staring at the Indian and his cross), as perhaps at midnight, when all boundaries are lost, the country reverts to its ancient shape, as the Romans saw it, lying cloudy, when they landed, and the hills had no names and rivers wound they knew not where —- such was her darkness;”

Woolf, Virginia.  Mrs. Dalloway.  New York: Harcourt, 1981.

Septimus’ thoughts hark back to Conrad’s line “This too, was one of the dark places of the earth.”  However, the paragraph is littered with allusionary diction like Indian, cross, Romans, and darkness. Where in Conrad there is the implicit assumption the dark place is not dark any more because it “was” and is not “is,”  Woolf seems to suggest the darkness is constantly encroaching itself upon people. The ease with which Septimus jumps from the words of his wife to an allusion to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is unsettling to readers, because it is not an easy leap at all; it is almost insane.  However, perhaps Septimus is not insane, but the only sane one?

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