In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the character of Sally Seton is often over looked and over shadowed by attention to the character of Peter Walsh who is portrayed somewhat misleadingly as Clarissa’s first love. Censorship in early 20th century Great Britain prevented literary representation of overt lesbian romance. Perhaps to circumvent this restriction, Virginia Woolf uses Peter Walsh as the public face of the private love between Sally and Clarissa. I suggest that by borrowing from mathematics and applying the transitive property of Peter, then: (Peter and Sally) + (Peter and Clarissa) = (Sally and Clarissa). Critics and reviewers have recognized Woolf’s finesse in getting around censorship in later works such as Orlando but have missed some of the subtlety with which she achieves it in Mrs. Dalloway.
Katherine Gregory, ’12
Iowa City, IA
Major: English and Creative Writing
Sponsor: Leslie Hankins