A Feminist Reading of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway

Iraj Montashery


Virginia Woolf in Mrs Dalloway (1925) primarily focuses on Clarissa Dalloway’s multifaceted identity. In this study I intend to shed more light on the problematic of subjectivity from feminist perspective. The present study draws on Woolf’s own understanding regarding the formation of identity as well as Simone de Beauvoir’s, Judith Butler’s and Susan Bordo’s to locate Clarissa’s feminine qualities and resistance in the novel. All the above mentioned figures believe in the constructivity of identity formation: that Clarissa's identity, far from being given in advance for her to step into, emerge over time through discursive and other social practices; her identity is inflected and constructed by ideologies of gender and other social constructs. The interactions between language and gender on the one hand, and feminist theory on the other, are of tremendous significance in this study. The present study challenges the essentialist notion that identities in general, and gender identities in particular, are inevitable, natural and fixed. Clarissa’s identity needs to be constructed socially through language, but this very language is patriarchal and therefore, marginalizes feminine identity. I conclude that Clarissa Dalloway as a social being is not able to achieve a stable and unified position as a subject and her struggles are frustrated and ultimately lead to defeat of constructing a unified subjectivity.


Subjectivity; Identity; Social Constructionism; Resistance; Body; Gender

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