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Mrs. Dalloway: Clarissa Dalloway’s social relationships

 Virginia Woolf's novel, ‘Mrs. Dalloway’

(Clarissa Dalloway’s social relationships)

Mrs. Dalloway: Clarissa Dalloway’s social relationships

Q. Write a critical note on Clarissa Dalloway’s social relationships. Do you find these relationships satisfactory? Justify your answer

Answer: Clarissa Dalloway, the protagonist of Virginia Woolf's novel "Mrs. Dalloway," is a woman who navigates through various social relationships throughout the story. While some of these relationships appear satisfactory, others are fraught with tension and ambiguity, making it difficult to arrive at a clear-cut conclusion about their overall quality.

On the one hand, Clarissa's relationships with her upper-class friends and acquaintances seem to be relatively satisfying. She is well-liked and respected by many in her social circle, and she takes great care to cultivate and maintain these relationships. Clarissa is known for her graciousness and her ability to bring people together, and she seems to genuinely enjoy the company of her friends.

On the other hand, Clarissa's relationships with her husband Richard and her former lover Peter Walsh are more complex and troubled. Richard and Clarissa have been married for many years, but their relationship appears to be largely one of convenience rather than love. They have grown distant over the years, and Clarissa often feels isolated and alone in her marriage. Similarly, her relationship with Peter is fraught with tension and unresolved feelings, and it is clear that their past romantic entanglement still haunts them both.

It is worth noting that Clarissa's social relationships are heavily influenced by the social norms and expectations of her time and class. As a woman of the upper class in early 20th century London, Clarissa is expected to maintain a certain level of decorum and respectability, which can be a burden on her personal relationships. For example, her past relationship with Peter Walsh was cut short because it was deemed socially unacceptable for a young woman to be seen in public with a man who was not her husband or fiancé.

Furthermore, Clarissa's relationships with other women in her social circle are often characterized by competition and rivalry. She is acutely aware of the power dynamics at play in her social circle and is constantly striving to maintain her position at the top of the social hierarchy. This can be seen in her interactions with her friend Sally Seton, whom Clarissa both admires and envies for her youthful spirit and rebelliousness.

In light of these complexities, it is difficult to say whether Clarissa's social relationships are ultimately satisfactory or not but it is clear that Clarissa's social relationships are far from simple or straightforward. While she is able to navigate the social expectations of her time and class with grace and ease, this comes at a cost to her personal relationships. It is up to the reader to decide whether these relationships are ultimately satisfactory or not, but what is clear is that they are a product of the complex and often oppressive social structures of early 20th century London.


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