Title

From Clarissa to Mrs. Dalloway: The Longing for Independence

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Campus where you would like to present

Ellensburg

Event Website

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source

Start Date

18-5-2020

Abstract

This paper investigates the hidden homosexual desires and traditional gender role expectations of Clarissa Dalloway in the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Drawing on literary criticism and feminist theory that discuss female gender roles and sexuality, I analyze Clarissa’s repressed desire, and ultimate failure, to pursue a life independent from her husband, Richard. Throughout the novel, Woolf suggests that Clarissa longs to express her homosexual desires but hides her individual identity to fit in with the gender expectations of her peers and the rest of society. It becomes evident that, regardless of being a perfect housekeeper and fulfilling her duties as a woman in the early 20th-century, she fails to fulfill her individual desires. As Mrs. Dalloway, she is an exemplary hostess, wife and mother, but other than these roles, she has no other purpose in life and finds herself depressed and wishing for more. Early in her life, Clarissa’s interactions with Sally Seton introduced her to the passion of homosexual desire, but also suggested how to break through the barriers of society and live an independent life outside of marriage. Likewise, with her friend Peter Walsh, Clarissa is passionate and driven, her thoughts and opinions are important to her, and she is not afraid to speak her mind. Ultimately, despite Clarissa’s need to explore her repressed homosexual desires and independence, the traditional gender role expectations of Mrs. Dalloway prohibit her from pursuing her life as an individual.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Christopher Schedler

Department/Program

English

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May 18th, 12:00 PM

From Clarissa to Mrs. Dalloway: The Longing for Independence

Ellensburg

This paper investigates the hidden homosexual desires and traditional gender role expectations of Clarissa Dalloway in the novel Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Drawing on literary criticism and feminist theory that discuss female gender roles and sexuality, I analyze Clarissa’s repressed desire, and ultimate failure, to pursue a life independent from her husband, Richard. Throughout the novel, Woolf suggests that Clarissa longs to express her homosexual desires but hides her individual identity to fit in with the gender expectations of her peers and the rest of society. It becomes evident that, regardless of being a perfect housekeeper and fulfilling her duties as a woman in the early 20th-century, she fails to fulfill her individual desires. As Mrs. Dalloway, she is an exemplary hostess, wife and mother, but other than these roles, she has no other purpose in life and finds herself depressed and wishing for more. Early in her life, Clarissa’s interactions with Sally Seton introduced her to the passion of homosexual desire, but also suggested how to break through the barriers of society and live an independent life outside of marriage. Likewise, with her friend Peter Walsh, Clarissa is passionate and driven, her thoughts and opinions are important to her, and she is not afraid to speak her mind. Ultimately, despite Clarissa’s need to explore her repressed homosexual desires and independence, the traditional gender role expectations of Mrs. Dalloway prohibit her from pursuing her life as an individual.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2020/CAH/10