Tag Archives: inablity to express

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. ┬áThis 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.