Everyday Life In Mrs. Dalloway

“And so there began a soundless and exquisite passing to and fro through swing doors of aproned white-capped maids, handmaidens not of necessity, but adepts in a mystery or grand deception practised by hostesses in Mayfair from one-thirty to two, when, with a wave of the hand, the traffic ceases, and there rises instead this profound illusion in the first place about the food — how it is not paid for; and then that the table spreads itself voluntarily with glass and silver, little mats, saucers of red fruit; films of brown cream mask turbot; in caseroles severed chickens swim; coloured, undomestic, the fire burns; and with the wine and the coffee (not paid for) rise jocund visions before musing eyes; gently speculative eyes; eyes to whom life appears musical, mysterious; eyes now kindled to observe genially the beauty of the red carnations which Lady Bruton (whose movements were always angular) had laid beside her plate, so that Hugh Whitbread, feeling at peace with the entire universe and at the same time completely sure of his standing, said….”

p. 104

Notes: the remarkable qualities of the everyday, imagery, this is all one sentence…

1 thought on “Everyday Life In Mrs. Dalloway

  1. I think it’s very interesting how objects of everyday life are commonly associated with triviality and mundaneness, and yet Woolf places a strong significance on these objects both aesthetically and thematically. I think this passage represents Woolf’s portrayal of this unexpected significance throughout the novel really well. Woolf’s language conveys both a micro and macro-level of significance in the intensity of individual images and the way in which these images compound in this run-on sentence. Defying the expectations of the nature of everyday objects, these images portray the emotional significance of even the most seemingly small detail, therefore displaying the psychological state of the character(s).

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