Inability to Control and Express Oneself in Mrs. Dalloway

“But to sit here, unable to think of anything to say; to see Elizabeth turning against her, to be felt repulsive even by her–it was too much… ‘People don’t ask me to parties’–and she knew as she said it that it was this egotism that was her undoing…’Why should they ask me?’ she said. ‘I’m plain, I’m unhappy.’ She knew it was idiotic. But it was all those people passing–people with parcels who despised her, who made her say it… ‘Don’t quite forget me,” said Doris Kilman… One had to pay at the desk, Elizabeth said, and went off, drawing out, so Miss Kilman felt, the very entrails of her body, stretching them as she crossed the room, and then, with a final twist, bowing her head very politely, she went” (Woolf 132-133).

“But he remembered Bradshaw said, ‘The people we are most fond of are not good for us when we are ill.’ Bradshaw said, he must be taught to rest. Bradshaw said they must be separated.’Must,’ ‘must,’ why ‘must’? What power had Bradshaw over him? ‘What right has Bradshaw to say ‘must’ to me?’ he demanded. ‘It is because you talked of killing yourself,’ said Rezia… So he was in their power! Holmes and Bradshaw were on him!” (Woolf 147).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York, NY: Harcourt, Inc., 1981. Print.

Notes: This is a very heart-wrenching moment where Miss Kilman wants so badly to confess her love for Elizabeth, but can’t express her true feelings through words. She wants Elizabteh to be with her, but loses control over the situation and ultimately loses her in a gory metaphor of their guts ripping apart.  This inability for a character to control their life occurs again with Septimus, when Lucrezia and the doctors keep saying that he needs medical treatment. Septimus is upset that Bradshaw tells him what he must do, and notes that the doctors are the ones who have control over his life, not himself.

1 thought on “Inability to Control and Express Oneself in Mrs. Dalloway

  1. Response: I liked how you connected both passages through the lack of self – control and how you said that “Kilman loses Elizabeth in a gory metaphor” (132-133). Both Kilman and Septimus lose their self- control through different manners. Kilman loses her self-control due to her egotism and the concern of the people passing by her. I agree with you how heart-wrenching this moment must have been for Kilman; she really wanted to express her affections towards Elizabeth, but society and her egotism prevent her from doing so. Just like Kilman was unable to control herself, similarly, Septimus’s negative experiences during World War 1 have caused him to lose his mental balance, and therefore, he has no control over his mental illness. He constantly has thoughts of people mocking him, and thoughts of committing suicide and this is the reason as to why doctors suggest Septimus to have medical treatments. Through the use of medical treatments, Septimus can erase ehese negative thoughts and have a better self-control over himself. I really feel bad for Septimus; first of all, his mental illness has taken over his personality and life to such an extent that he has no control over himself anymore. No person would want to live such a life where they can’t behave normal. Also, Septimus’s mental illness makes him feel frustrated and angry since the doctors are making the decisions in his life, not himself. Not only do I feel bad for Septimus, but I also feel strongly for Rezia Smith since she solely has the responsibility to take care of Septimus’s mental illness throughout the rest of her life. Every day must be hard for Rezia since she has no idea how her husband will react. Also, every woman wants to have a husband who is mentally stabled; however, things are different for Rezia. Rezia knows because of her husband’s severe mental illness, he will never be able to become normal again and she will have to spend the rest of her life taking care of him and not expecting any affection from him in return. In both of these passages, you feel for both of the characters, however, I strongly feel for Septimus and Rezia.

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