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Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, first published in 1925, examines one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class Londoner married to a member of Parliament. The novel addresses the nature of time in personal experience through multiple stories, particularly that of Clarissa, as she prepares for and hosts a party, and that of the World War I veteran Septimus Warren Smith, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The novel is widely considered to be a groundbreaking work of twentieth-century literary fiction.
The narrative begins and ends with Clarissa as it details a day in her life. Clarissa is a seemingly disillusioned socialite whose mood fluctuates: at some moments she seems delighted, at others she seems depressed. Her overall affect suggests suppressed symptoms of depression.
Mrs. Dalloway begins with Clarissa’s preparatory errand to buy flowers. Unexpected events occur—a car emits an explosive noise and a plane writes in the sky—and incite different reactions in different people. Soon after she returns home, her former lover Peter arrives. The two converse, and it becomes clear that they still have strong feelings for each other.