Peiqi Sui

Date of Award


First Advisor

Brian Conolly

Second Advisor

Patricia Sharpe

Third Advisor

Douglas Mao


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.

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