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Mrs. Dalloway a satiric picture of contemporary civilization

Mrs. Dalloway gives us a true picture of modern life with its destructive forces of class-struggle, economic insecurity, isolation and war. Here Woolf's outlook on life is pessimistic and even cynical, and both the satirical parts of the novel and the serious or tragic party of it convey this pessimistic philosophy of life.
Mrs. Dalloway a satiric picture of contemporary civilization

In Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway is apparently very sociable, expert in giving frequent parties. But, in fact, she is terribly lonely. She finds nothing common between herself and the people around her husband, Sally Seton, Bradshaws. Ironically, Septums Warren Smith is the man with whom she has great deal in common. But Septimus's situation in life is very different from hers.

Mrs. Dalloway deals chiefly with the life and personality of Mrs. Dalloway, affecting and affected by others who come in contact with her. The action is confined to a single day on which she is giving a party in the evening. But within this narrow framework of time by means of her contacts with others and the memories they evoke in her and in others, her life-story from her girlhood to her present age of fifty is gradually revealed.

Again through Doris Kilman, Woolf has directed all her indignation at the 'corrupt religiosity and possessive love'. Doris symbolizes the evils of religious fanaticism, intolerance and bigotry. She claims even to have seen the Lord who has shown her the way and through prayer she tries to achieve a feeling of peace and tranquillity, but she has no love and religion within her. She burns with hatred for those like Clarissa, who are more fortunate and happy in life.

Blind hero-worship is the result of complete distortion of values in the contemporary civilization and this is satirised in Mrs. Dalloway. This hero worship is symbolised by pompous fool like Hugh Whitbreads, who stands for those servile toadies who cringe and fawn before greatness, and represent the snobbery, and everything most detestable, in English middle class life. Further there are satirical portrayals of doctors and medical professionals. Dr. Holmes and Sir William Bradshaw are vivid projections of Woolf's own experience of doctors.

There is also satire on cold and calculative individuals. While the Dalloways, the Bradshaws and the Hugh Whitbreads symbolise the traditional and the conservative, Peter Walsh, Sally Seton and Septimus, symbolise the unconventional, the adventurous, and the visionary. Sally Seton as a girl is extremely unconventional and progressive with a passion for reforming the world, but such unconventional people are not welcomed by society.

Thus Mrs Dalloway gives a true picture of the post-war civilization--its external glitter and brilliance, its pomp and show, its social snobbery, its hypocrisy, its greed and worldliness, etc.


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