Clarissa Dalloway’s body : transformations of Christian concepts of femininity and maternity in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

Part of : Γράμμα : περιοδικό θεωρίας και κριτικής ; Vol.1, No.1, 1993, pages 87-104

The myth of the Virgin Mary, closely connected with the predominant image of woman as madonna in the nineteenth century, seems to have infiltrated Virginia Woolf s Mrs. Dalloway. The concepts of virginity, and the reduction of the female body to certain limited parts: the nourishing breast, the ear of understanding, and the tears of lamentation, are qualities attributed to Clarissa Dalloway. Woolf, however, offers her criticism of these Christian notions concerning the female body: she links virginity with power, reverses maternity to its opposite function and ascribes an erotic character to mysticism. At the same time, she very dexterously escapes offering any alternative patterns.
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