Mediocrity in the Aftermath of Service

To love makes one solitary, she thought. She could tell nobody, not even Septimus now, and looking back, she saw him sitting in his shabby overcoat alone, on the seat, hunched up, staring. And it was cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself, but Septimus had fought; he was brave; he was not Septimus now (Woolf 33).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1925. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013962207&view=1up&seq=1&skin=2021

Suffering from the aftermath of the Great War, Septimus has sought refuge from the horrors he has dealt with by retreating into his own mind. Despite coming back a victor, he has been reduced to nothing more than a shell of the man he once was. How does Woolf use Septimus’ POV to relate how the other characters interact with everyday happenings versus how he sees them? Why the criticism and hopelessness? How does his character add onto the experience of others?

Forsaking an Idealistic Worldview, a Child’s Angle

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

Joyce James. Dubliners. Grant Richards 1914, 41.

The narrator throughout the chapter “Araby” can be seen observing his dull, cyclical surroundings in North Richmond and contrasting it with the promise of a newer/more exotic experience in a bazaar told to him by a girl whom he has a crush on. Here, his realization that both the bazaar and the girl were more idealistic in his mind than what could ever be found in person propelled him to give up whilst garnering self-hatred. From his perspective, adulthood was seen to be as dull as it was disappointing. Each adult, whether it be his teacher, parents, or young lady at the stall, all vexed him in different ways. Could the narrator’s perspective be a one-to-one image of what’s actually happening? Or is this perspective through a biased, childish lens, thus reaffirming the dullness of the world around him?

The Middle Years

It was not true, what he had tried for renunciation’s sake to believe, that all the combinations were exhausted. They were not, they were notthey were infinite: the exhaustion was in the miserable artist.

Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 342.

Dencombe’s mind wandered from the idle chatter he was having with Doctor Hugh to a more introspective quaint thought on the slight absurdity of the interaction. To take the words of a doctor seriously on health is subverted by the fact that the doctor is taking Dencombe’s own written words seriously.  How is it odd for such a combination to exist? Does Dencombe slightly sound contrarian? What does he mean by :the exhaustion was in the miserable artist” in relation to the “infinite combinations” he previously spoke of?