Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. she came from an aristocratic family,therefore from an highly educated and intellectual family environment which gratly influenced her in her approaching to writing and art in general. She gave great importance to water:it represented two things:on the one hand,it represented what is a sooth-flowing;on the other hand,it was the only solution of problems in death. Her mother died in 1895,when she was only thirteen and she started to be in conflict with her father. She had some psychological problems:she used to hear voices in her head and had migraine attacks. After her father’s death,she moved to Bloomsbury where she founded with her brother a circle of intellectuals and where she met her husband Leonard Woolf. In 1917,they founded a publishing company,the Hogarth Press. The Second World increased her anxiety and fears:she felt that the world had disappeared. She chose the only possible death for her,”death by water”,and drowned herself in the river Ouse.
In her essay,Modern fiction she said “the mind receives a myriad of impressions(...) (the writer) could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention,there would be no plot,no comedy,no tragedy.” The story is not important,what matters is the impression the make on the characters who experience them. In her work there isn’t the omniscent narrator;she uses the stream of consciousness. She uses also Joice’s epiphany,that is the sudden revelation of an interior reality caused by the most trivial events of everyday life. She doesn’t use the traditional narration voice,but she takes different points of view from her characters and she “speaks” with their minds,showing their thoughts and feelings as the occur. Virginia Woolf wants also to show the gap between chronoligical and interior time. In fact,in this period,writer were influenced by Bergson’s theory about time. He said there two kind of time:an historical time,that is eternal and objective;and a psycological time that is internal and subjective.
Virginia Woolf wants to show life as a continous changing from moment to moment. The protagonist is presented with her feelings and experiences. This work takes place on a single day,in London,when Clarissa has to give her party. The author wants to show the deeper humanity of her characters behind their social mask. Clarissa is characterised by opposing feelings:her need for freedom and indipendence and her class conosciousness. She imposes severe restrictions on her feelings. She is aware of her fragidity,of her inability to abandon herself. For this reason she cuold be compared with Septimus. He considers himself as a Messiah come to renew society. He saw his friend Evans die during the war and he felt followed by his spectre. He was one of the victims of industrialized world. Septimus cuold be considered Clarissa’s double. They are not linked apart from the news of Septimus’death. They are very similar:they married only for protection;Clarissa is fragile and Septimus is impotent. She understands him and she feels very like him and somehow she’s glad he committed suicide because thanks to him she could truly understand life. “...She did not pity him(...)she felt somehow very like him(...)she left glad that he had done it...”