The Constant Paranoia of Death Clarissa Faces from the Great War

“- one didn’t dislike her ) murmured how, ‘just as we were starting, my husband was called up on the telephone, a very sad case. A young man ( that is what Sir William is telling Mr. Dalloway ) had killed himself. He had been in the army.’ Oh! thought Clarissa, in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought.” (Woolfe, 289)

Throughout the story, little sprinkles of war are directly mentioned, like in this quote where they say that Septimus was in the army. Or, more indirectly, like when Clarissa contemplates while watching the taxi cabs about how dangerous it is to live each day. Also when Clarissa demonstrates paranoia toward death when she stops and profoundly thinks about Septimus’s suicide and her life. In the quote, Woolf uses Clarrisa’s thoughts to portray how traumatized she is about the subject of death because at the end of the passage, she exclaims, “here’s death,” almost adding personification to the term. Like she is facing death itself.

Septimus’ Haunted Past

“He had not cared when Evans was killed; that was worst; but all the other crimes raised their heads and shook their fingers and jeered and sneered over the rail of the bed in the early hours of the morning at the prostrate body which lay realizing its degradation…the verdict of human nature on such a wretch was death.” (Woolfe 89)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, 2002.

Septimus is deeply haunted by his past, though he punishes himself for being “unfeeling”. In turn, these very things that haunt him are themselves feelings, despite his past telling him that he is something inhuman. No one condemns Septumis more harshly than himself. It is easier for Septimus to believe he is devoid of emotion rather than succumb to the emotions that lie dormant inside him.