Date of Award
Critics have long debated on whether it is more appropriate to understand the central character of Mrs. Dalloway as a private, isolated self that is highlighted by Virginia Woolf’s focus on interiority, or a part of an interconnected web of characters. I find both perspectives to be limited: the former rests on problematic philosophical assumptions, while the latter fails to use interconnectedness to formulate an account of “who is Clarissa.” To address and fix their respective flaws, I turn to Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time to borrow ontological structures and phenomenology that could help to better illuminate themes and individual scenes in Mrs. Dalloway. I will start by construing the general textual ecology of the novel through the Heideggerian lenses of authenticity and uprootedness in Chapter 1; in Chapter 2, I will attempt to frame Clarissa’s own existential story, which presents an oxymoronic situation in terms of her authenticity; Chapter 3 examines Clarissa as a character from the perspective of authenticity, by looking specifically at the relation between her involvement and memory, and her engagement with being-towards-death; and Chapter 4 explicates how her specific being-withs (with other characters) help shape her existential conditions.
Sui, Peiqi, "Beyond Interiority: A Heideggerian Reading of Mrs. Dalloway" (2020). Senior Theses. 1465.
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