genre · Modernist; formalist; feminist
time and place written · Woolf began Mrs. Dalloway in Sussex in 1922 and completed the novel in London in 1924.
narrator · Anonymous. The omniscient narrator is a commenting voice who knows everything about the characters. This voice appears occasionally among the subjective thoughts of characters. The critique of Sir William Bradshaw’s reverence of proportion and conversion is the narrator’s most sustained appearance.
point of view · Point of view changes constantly, often shifting from one character’s stream of consciousness (subjective interior thoughts) to another’s within a single paragraph. Woolf most often uses free indirect discourse, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person singular pronouns (he and she). This technique ensures that transitions between the thoughts of a large number of characters are subtle and smooth.
tone · The narrator is against the oppression of the human soul and for the celebration of diversity, as are the book’s major characters. Sometimes the mood is humorous, but an underlying sadness is always present.
themes · Communication vs. privacy; disillusionment with the British Empire; the fear of death; the threat of oppression
motifs · Time; Shakespeare; trees and flowers; waves and water
symbols · The prime minister; Peter Walsh’s pocketknife and other weapons; the old woman in the window; the old woman singing an ancient song
Part 1: From the opening scene, in which Clarissa sets out to buy flowers, to her return home. Early morning–11:00 a.m.