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We see many echoes of Woolf within the character of Clarissa during this chapter. The theme of the virgin, symbolizing seclusion, independence, and sexual aridity, takes over as we move from Clarissa, excited with life, to Clarissa, secluded, reflective, and lonely. Her relief at returning home is compared explicitly by Woolf to a nun returning to her habit and yet, ironically, she only ventures to her virginal, narrow attic room when she feels snubbed by society. Because of this snub, we learn further how much Clarissa cares about societal issues as she meditates on her worth as a result of it. Conversely, we learn that she enjoys being alone to the extent that she has slept alone in the attic since her illness. Directly after Woolf describes Clarissas starch white sheets pulled tightly over her narrow attic bed, an overt metaphor for virginal sexuality, she includes that Clarissa wondered if she had failed Richard. She also states that Clarissa had loved Sally as a man loves a woman, implying that Clarissa had never truly loved Richard in this manner, and perhaps had never loved any man in this manner. The flaws of communication and intimacy between Richard and Clarissa are foreshadowed. In the eyes of some critics, Woolf insinuates that Clarissa was stifled in her homosexual love for Sally by the standards of society and her own conservatism.

Sally was Clarissas inspiration to think beyond the walls of Bourton, to read, to philosophize, to fantasize. Woolf describes the kiss between Sally and Clarissa as an epiphany of sorts, an ecstasy,

Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world may have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally. And she felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it - a diamond, something infinitely precious, wrapped up, which, as they walked (up and down, up and down), she uncovered, or the radiance burnt through, the revelation, the religious feeling! (5-6).

As Clarissas relative loneliness and lack of intimacy in marriage is symbolized through the metaphor of a virginal nun, the most intense sexual moment in Clarissas life is symbolized through intense religious feeling. Thus, the kiss represents and understates the sexual attraction and revelation that Sally brought to Clarissa. The present given to Clarissa, the diamond, the flower picked, the radiance burnt through, all symbolize this sexual experience. It is not surprising, then, that Clarissa feels so violated when men intrude upon her moment. Peter and old Josephs intrusion symbolizes the dominance of men in society and the conservatism of sexual relations that would not allow for Clarissas true yearnings. Whether Woolf had sexual feelings toward women or not, biographers describe her relationship with her husband as a strong, caring friendship without much sexual intimacy. This sexual component is similarly lacking in her proponents life.


Clarissas continued longing for Peter also illustrates that her relationship is lacking with Richard. At one point in her conversation with Peter, she wishes that he would take her away. The moment subsides, but the intensity between the two remains throughout the novel. Peters tendency to play with his pocketknife is a phallic metaphor, symbolizing Peters repressed sexual urges toward Clarissa. He not only invades Clarissas peace, but her virginal sense of self as well. Woolf describes Clarissas reaction to the moment of Peters entrance as, She made to hide her dress, like a virgin protecting her chastity, respecting privacy.(40) Yet, she does feel passion in Peters presence, a fleeting gaiety and vivacity for life. Representative of the everyman, Clarissa is prone to wonder what if. These emotions come and go like waves, synecdochal for the theme of the sea. The waves of time are introduced by the bells of Big Ben.

Part I Section Four Summary (p.48 -56 Remember my party, remember...feathers of sleep, sank, and was muffled over.)

Peter mimicked Clarissa as he walked from her house. He had never enjoyed her parties, parties such as hers. He did not blame her, though. He was in love and happy to be so. There was so much he had seen and done of which Clarissa knew nothing. She had grown hard. He thought the way she had introduced Elizabeth was insincere and that Elizabeth had thought so. Clarissa should have plainly said, Heres Elizabeth. He had been overly emotional when he had visited Clarissa. As always, he had told her everything. Peter felt that Clarissa had refused him.

The bells of St. Margarets echoed across London, and Peter associated St. Margarets graceful entrance with Clarissa as the hostess. He imagined her coming in to a room years ago and was swept up in the intimacy of the memory. As the bells died out, they reminded Peter that Clarissas heart had been ill, and he imagined her falling to the floor, dying. He shook himself from this image and reminded himself that he was not old yet. He had never liked people like the Dalloways and Whitbreads. He had been a rebel, a pioneer, and civilization needed young men like him.

Boys in uniform marched by Peter and, instinctively, he followed them. Soon, he realized he could not maintain their pace and let them pass. He could respect the uniformity in boys, as they did not yet know the troubles of the flesh. Alone in Trafalgar Square, he had not felt so young in years. A young woman passed who enchanted Peter. He transformed her into the woman he had always wanted and began following her through the streets. She seemed to speak silently to Peter, to his soul. He kept up with her until she slowed before a building and disappeared inside. He had had his fun.

He was still too early for his appointment with the lawyer and so walked to Regents Park to sit. The day was beautiful, and he felt a certain pride for the civility and accomplished air of London. His Anglo-Indian family had administered the affairs of India for years and, though he despised the empire and army, he still felt proud. The pomp was absurd, but admirable. Thoughts of his past continued to combat him, likely a result of seeing Clarissa. He thought of a fight he had had with her father at Bourton. Peter looked for a secluded seat in the park but settled for one next to a nurse and sleeping baby. Peter again thought of Elizabeth, thinking she was peculiar looking and probably did not get along with her mother. Smoking a cigar, he curled the smoke from his lips and decided to try to speak with Elizabeth alone that night. He threw away the cigar and fell into a deep sleep.

Part One Section Four Analysis

The theme of the intersection of time and timelessness arises as we watch Peter walk through London and wander through Regents Park as Clarissa had done only a few hours earlier. Unlike Clarissa, however, he does not notice the beauty of the day or feel the effect of the bells on a cosmic, spiritual level. He does not appreciate the moment as Clarissa often does. Instead, everything for Peter relates to his past, present, or fantasy. His thoughts are always internalized. In this manner, time blurs with timelessness as Peters memories blur with present images, wishes, and fantasies.

As soon as Peter leaves Clarissas home, he is overcome with combative thoughts. He believes that Clarissa said the wrong thing to Elizabeth, for example. He hates Clarissas parties. Clarissa dominates his thoughts to the point where external stimuli simply function to remind him of her in different ways. St. Margarets bells remind him of Clarissa as the hostess. This reference alludes to Clarissas thoughts earlier in the day of Peter and his comment to her that she would be the perfect hostess. Thus, the bells symbolize a line of conflict between Peter and Clarissa.

Consequently, Peter is soon reminded of Clarissas heart condition and he pictures her dying. Clarissas imaginary death foreshadows the death of her double, Septimus, later in the novel. Peter shakes off the bad image because he does not want to think of himself being old enough to die. He thus uses the next images that come his way, the marching boys and the beautiful young woman, as symbols of his youth and his courage.

He tells himself that he was a rebel when young and that the world needed men like him. Peter is trying to rationalize the dissociation he feels from the humanity surrounding him. The waves of emotion he experiences touch on the theme of the sea. The words that describe him following the young woman allude to the motions of the sea. The phrases are short and choppy, yet rhythmic. The text states, She moved; she crossed; he followed her...But other people got between them on the street, obstructing him, blotting her out. He pursued; she changed (5). His mood changes again when he stops to actually look around at the world passing him by. He is impressed by the civility of London as compared to the Indian culture in which he had been living. London is a metonym for Clarissa and the type of society she represents. Though Peter wants to rebel, he cannot help but yearn for inclusion within the society he tries to despise.

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