In the 1920s America was at its highest point. It was the roaring twenties. There were parties going on, people were spending money on extravagant things, having a great time and just enjoying life. It was post war and everything was going spectacularly. But, that was America. What was going on in other countries? How were people responding to the newly ceased war? What was daily life like in countries other than America? Were there underlying issues that are hidden in the chaos of the time? Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf provides a strong perspective of what it was like to live in this time. While reading this story, I took the liberty of comparing the stereotypes we learn about the roaring twenties in America and comparing them to what was going on in Mrs. Dalloway.
To begin, it is important to establish some background information on Virginia Woolf. She was a modernist writer in the early 19th century and spoke at many universities. However, she was mentally ill and would eventually commit suicide. She also questioned her sexuality and was exposed to radical feminism in the UK.
Several of the issues Woolf faced in her own personal life appeared in Mr. Dalloway. The story gave a more dismal aspect to life, despite the underlying plot of preparing for a party. This could be due to the way the story is written. This story is told through many different character perspectives and employs the use of stream of consciousness. Mainly, we get the perception of Mrs. Dalloway who had relations with another women and Septimus who is suffering from a mental disorder known as shell shock. Mental disorder was a very prevalent issue in Woolf’s life and is seen as a major problem through Septimus’ character.
Through these characters and deeper thoughts, are we obtaining a more accurate depiction of what life was really like in the 1920s? Or are we seeing a more biased perspective from Woolf and her personal experiences? We are certainly receiving a biased opinion from the characters.
After reading Mrs. Dalloway, I feel I have a different perspective as to what life was like in the 1920s. It seems to me now that there were many underlying issue of the time that I had not been aware of before. Comparing Mrs. Dalloway to stories such as The Great Gatsby and other stories of the 1920s provides the reader with two completely different perspectives.