The Sea

Woolf has an unbreakable affinity with the sea, and if in Mrs Dalloway it is rather less apparent than in The Waves or To The Lighthouse, it is nonetheless a constant symbol. The link between the seemingly disassociated lives of Clarissa and Septimus Smith is highlighted by the use of images of the sea. At the start of the novel, the morning seems to Clarissa: "fresh, as if issued to children on a beach". When she hears of Septimus’ death, she compares his plunge from the window to a man drowning, and pities herself for her own imagination: "It was her punishment to see sink and disappear here a man, there a woman, in this profound darkness, and she forced to stand here in her evening dress". Rezia dreams of Septimus "somewhere near the sea, for there were ships, gulls, butterflies; they sat on a cliff."

The Aeroplane

The plane circles above London, writing a message in the sky. It is an advertisement for something, but no one can make out what. It could be Glaxo or it could be Kreemo. This confused symbol may represent the difficulty that Clarissa and the other characters in the novel have coming to terms with the consumerism of the new century. The plane is compared to Shelley’s skylark "curving up and up, straight up, like something mounting in ecstasy, in pure delight", while "out from behind poured white smoke looping, writing a T, an O, an F." Gillian Beer describes the passage as one in which "toffs and toffee are lexically indistinguishable, farts in the wake of lark, of sexual rapture."

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