A Mind of One’s Own: Individual Internality vs. Interpersonal Intimacy in Mrs. Dalloway


  • Percy Verret


Throughout her early career, British modernist Virginia Woolf developed a literary style that gave modal priority to “internality,” or the inner workings of the inward mind. The most noteworthy instance of Woolf ’s efforts in that literary style is the perennial
classic, Mrs. Dalloway, whose delicate stream-of-consciousness narrative is universally regarded as exhibiting mastery over the style’s modernist prioritization of internality over conventional tropes in fiction. What is less widely recognized is that in Mrs. Dalloway Woolf crafted a piece that not only demonstrated a modal attentiveness to internality, but also effected a defense of individual internality—an exploration of the delineation between minds within intimate relationships and the impact of those delineations on the individual minds participating in the relationship. Accordingly, this essay examines Woolf ’s theory of interpersonal intimacy by using tenets from her essay “Modern Fiction” (1919) and short work A Room of One’s Own (1929) to effect a comparative analysis of the relational practices of various characters in Mrs. Dalloway (1925), commenting particularly on those practices’ impact on the internal worlds of
Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Smith.


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