Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mrs D #3

Carry on the debate over who is stronger/more courageous: Clarissa or Septimus? Write at least 3 sentences explaining your answer. Bonus points for multiple comments/responding to your classmates - only your initial answer need be 3 full sentences, any others can be less.


  1. First I would like to say that I believe that comparing two people's moral strength when they haven't been through the same trials is superficial. It is almost impossible to make a comparison that has any sense since they have not had to react to the same situations.

    That being said, I think that Clarissa is braver because tho they both are asking themselves very philosophical questions about life, Clarissa is strong enough not to bother her husband or worry him in any way. She is able contain her troubles and doesn't, like Septimus, need to express them.
    Septimus however is so weak that he has to spill all his thoughts out and make his wife worry.

  2. Simon:
    I will start by pointing out a point that Delphine said:Clarissa and Septimus haven't been through the same trials. The worst thing that has happened to Clarissa was illness whereas Septimus has seen the horrors of war and the death of his fellow soldiers.

    Having said that I will contradict Delphine by saying I think Septimus is the stronger as the moment he wakes up from his insanity he realises the trouble he has created and is strong enough to realise that the doctors won't let him go away.Therefore even though he has come back to reality and can enjoy life as he used he takes the difficult decision of committing suicide to save himself from the physical and mental pain through which the doctors would have put them.

    To conclude even if during most of the novel Septimus could be considered as weak by the fact that he fell into insanity, for reasons that can not be neglected, he shows his strenght in the last moments of his life where he has at least partly regained consciousness.

  3. I will start by saying that I am not agreeing with Delphine's point because two people who didn't go through the exact same experiences can definetly have the same way of thinking, dreaming, being and have very close life experience because they have the same way of reacting to what the world offers. Its the idea of the spiders thread which brings people who don't know each other together, using their social background, their ideas and thoughts about life etc..

    I would like to relate Sally Seaton and Peter Walsh together. These two characters both shared a certain passion with Clarissa years ago and it is very interesting to see them first through the eyes of Clarissa, then meeting Peter and finally see their meeting at the end of the novel. We have in front of us two passions that were differently shared, one homosexual and the other never had the chance to be expressed physically. And the result of these characters: one has moved on, has a husband, children and is extremely happy. The other has wondered through his own life, looking for something he didn't manage to get with Clarissa but not finding this same passion. It is very interesting to see how both of them have grown and experienced life.

  4. oups.. i just saw that this wasn't the question anymore.. :)

  5. I think Clarissa is stronger in a way that even though she isn't content with her life, she hasn't got the cowardice to give up which can be an easy solution, and tries to make the best out of what she is given.

  6. I really don't agree with Simon ,The worst thing that has happened to Clarissa was not her illness but seeing her sister die. This event also adds to Clarissa's strenght (which I think is greater than Septimus) since, out of that, she realized that in her opinion there is no God which made her advance and keep her life going. Maybe she is a 'snob' and hasn't been through a war but she is worried and scared and has a lot of questions about life but keeps them to herself instead of (as Delphine said) making her husband worry and the things which she is sure about (wanting to gather people together in her parties for example) she does them without paying attention to Peter and Richard criticizing her. Plus, It takes more to keep something to yourself than say it aloud to no one.

  7. i don't agree with cannelle. Keeping something to yourself isn't courageos at all. If you keep things to yourself that means you're scared of taking it all out and afraid of what people may think of you and of what you think. So this makes clarissa weaker than septimus. But septimus wants to die and commits suicide. So we can't say he's stronger. Comitting suicide is the weakest thing you can do. therefore i think clarissa is the courageous one.

  8. I agree with delphine in the sense that it's hard to compare two people who havn't been through the same thing. However we saw that they both shared similar things, and in my opinion Clarissa handled things better. It is not true that she hasn't done anything in her life, that she hasn't lived any traumatize because, as cannelle pointed out she also lost someone she loved just like septimus. She, unlike septimus is in a critical part of her life, where regrets and questionning her choices, are part of her evryday life, yet she goes on. If I think it takes strengh to be able to tell what you feel to others, I think it takes even more strengh to keep going with all your doubts, and act like evrything is fine,to some extent spare the ones you love .

    Besides, if you argue that septimus is stronger because he exteriorizes, I do not agree. Indeed, even though he clearly shows his problems, the closest person to him, his wife, is not able to understand him. In the end, he ends up killing himself, and well,even though that takes some courage, it also means he did not know how to deal with the situation; but clarissa she stays alive and deals with everything no matter how hard it is.

  9. I believe Septimus can be considered as stronger than Clarissa, as he found the bravery to actually realize what he really wanted. We cannot be sure of this but maybe Clarissa was willing to achieve something like that, that is to say put an end to her problems, her "misery" as well, but was just not brave enough, she prefers living unhappy than not living at all. This is why when she learnt what happened to Septimus, by Mrs Bradshaw, she felt like him, even though not knowing him, as it makes one feel better to see or imagine other people accomplish what you would like to do, even though you are not brave enough to do it yourself. Therefore I think that in a certain way, Clarissa is taking advantage of Septimus's courage, she is the weak one.

  10. I think that Septimus' crazy state reflects the fact Septimus does not dare confront reality anymore, sign of weakness. However, what he lived through is clearly mentally charged enough to make anyone go nuts.
    To continue, the way Clarissa resigns to "disrobing at midday" and fixing her dress clearly shows a loss of inner will to fight against old age, woman's place in society and the love in her mariage. It also shows a great interior strength in the way Clarissa hides her feelings to be the perfect hostess.
    Last, I think that neither Septimus nor Clarissa are stronger, that only depends of one's point of view. As I like Septimus better (he's funny), I shall say Septimus is stronger.

  11. I don't agree with Venitia when she says that "commiting suicide is the weakest thing you can do" especially in Septimus'situation.He had the stenght to realise that he was hurting his wife and that the doctors will never leave him alone. Septimus knows what he is doing and it is against his will(p.164 "But he would wait till the very last moment. He did not want to die. Life was good."). It's a very hard decision to make. Moreover Septimus and Clarissa do not express their thoughts the same way. Septimus is saying them aloud even though nobody understands him but Clarissa is afraid to face the comments that she could receive. Therefore I think that Septimus is the strongest.

  12. I agree with Manon when she sais that Septimus' suicide is not a proof of weakness. Indeed, his madness is simply is the expression of his thoughts, his state of mind which is not understandable by the outside world. Clarissa keeps all those thoughts to herself, and is therefore in some ways weaker than Septimus.
    I think that both characters are strong for even though they have suffered the horrors of life, they both fought against them : Septimus through his madness, and Clarissa by conceiling all those feelings within her and appearing as "normal" in society. I would say that Clarissa and Septimus' choices, to face either life or death, are very courageous acts.

  13. I think Septimus is stronger than Clarissa. Clarissa is very weak, in everything she does. Although she shares the same opinion as Septimus on the world, she is trapped in her consciousness because she refuses to let it out. Septimus had the strength to see that he was ill, to give his wife one last moment of lucidity and as for the suicide matter, it was not a weak act it was something he felt he had to do, as if there were no other choices. In a way, it is courageous to give up your life (in spetimus case), he loves life but hehas the courage to end it by his own means and that seems brave to me. And, obviously he has been through war so just that makes him more courageous than Clarissa. I really don't see any bravery in Clarissa, I feel like she has this sort of box inside where she stores all of her feelings, including her sister's death, no outward feelings ? One day, all of that holding back is going to go out all out once. Maybe that's one of the reasons why she appreciated the fact that Septimus comitted suicide...

  14. I would like to put an emphasis on Delphine's comment that I consider to be rather just, although perhaps a little manichean. It certainly is difficult to objectively compare two people's strengths and particularly those of Clarissa and Septimus who are both two very complex characters. Yet one would in some sense tend to describe Septimus as being weak, a coward, having given in to madness and finally committing suicide.. whilst maintaining that he is a strong soul having chosen to lead on with life for so long! Clarissa's situation is similar: a brave, solid personality, keeping her head high despite the profound discontent she goes through, choosing to fold herself up instead of publicly exposing her despair. And somehow this statement is false; Clarissa is not a strong and courageous character! She has never chosen to concretely follow her heart which leads to Peter, out of pure cowardice and fear of discomfort.
    It is impossible to establish a clean-cut truth concerning Both figures: one will always find a counter-example to prove the contrary. This just goes to show that a person cannot be qualified generally, because every-day situations are unique, and a personality, although inclined to follow a trend of reaction, is unpredictable and spontaneous each different second...

  15. I'd also like to respond to Mariam. Septimus showed proof of bravery after a long period of mental illness, on a spontaneous, unexplainable spurr of the moment kind-of-thing. To me, it was not something voluntary, and thus not something that can be considered as a courageous feat given that little or no personal effort went into this realisation. For so long, Septimus was oblivious to his surroundings, an though this cannot be qualified as weak or feeble, it takes away much of the credit he earned having gone through the horrors of war.
    And don't you think that perhaps Clarissa's privacy and withdrawal has something to do with the different-natured difficulties she has gone through?
    Perhaps it would be more judicious to consider there to be several different kinds of strenghts and braveries...

  16. Nicolas:
    I completely disagree with everyone who argues that Clarissa is stronger than Septimus.
    Most people who believe this have said that Clarissa is stronger because she keeps her problems to herself. Sorry, but that is definitely a sign of weakness: she doesn't want to share her thoughts to Richard because she's scared. Furthermore, Clarissa hiding her troubles is like lying to her husband, there is no courage in lying. In fact I don't think Clarissa shows any sign of strength or courage at all through the novel.
    On the contrary Septimus is strong, he regains sanity at the end of his life and has lucid conversations with Rezia. However, he understands that Dr Holmes and Sir William Bradshaw are going to take him away. His suicide can be interpretated as a refusal to surrender to the doctors.
    This shows Septimus' courage and strength.

  17. I agree with the idea that Septimus is mentally stronger then Clarissa.
    The only way Clarissa shows strength is by keeping her strong feelings and questions for herself. But she never choses to face her problems in life. Such as marrying Richard because she is scared of a strong relationship with Peter. She also never takes action towards Miss. Kilman even though she despises her.
    On the other hand, Septimus shows courage towards the end of the novel. He partly recovers form his trauma and finds beauty in small things (ex: bananas, trees). Septimus finally enjoys life and takes the hard decision of committing suicide because it is his only way to face a society he doesn't support.
    In this way Septimus is stronger then Clarissa.

  18. I would like to repeat Maud (goldengal)'s point to Nicolas and Leopold. Septimus has been unaware of his surroundings, and unable to feel for 5 years (since the end of the war). He is too weak to get past his traumatizing time in the war and unable to see how much things have changed around him. Altho fighting in the war, as he did, is a courageous act, it takes him 5 whole years to get over it.
    Furthermore Nicolas says there is no courage in lying. Well, Septimus directly lies to his wife when he first marries her. He does not love her in the least like he says he does, he is incapable of feeling, let alone of love, the most powerful feeling. He is therefore a liar and weak.
    Moreover it takes way more guts to swallow your worries than to spill them out. One's natural impulse is to share these thoughts. That makes fighting that impulse a strength.
    I think that Clarissa is stronger than Septimus since she is able to hold her head high in a society which she hates instead of using the "last resort" technique as Septimus does.

  19. I agree with what Leopold just said. It seems Clarissa has made choices in her life based on fear, not on her true feelings. If she had, then she would probably be leading a possibly less comfortable life but with the man she loves, or at least use to love.
    Considering the fact that during most of the book Septimus is in a state of madness and trauma, we can only compare him to Clarissa towards the end of the book. Indeed, many people have said that he is not strong because he did not keep his feelings in like Clarissa did, he made Rezia suffer ect... But how is it posible to tell if a man is strong or not when he is not acting like himself? we all know that madness leads to action and words people dont necesarily mean! Therefore, comparing his true person to Clarissa, we can state that there is a great gulf between those two character's strenght: it is true that Clarissa keeps it all in, her sisters death, her illness ect, but we know that she is a cold woman, she is not happy, and that is doomed to have an effect on her husband because he is obviously married with an unhappy wife, Septimus, however, when he "awakens", realizes how hurt Rezia is and what his madness has led to, i beleive he killed himself because he knows that Rezia will hurt even more when she sees him leaving for the madhouse and he does not want that to happen, therefore, he hid his thoughts and feelings to give Rezia happy last moments, he gave his life away for somebody's feelings, isnt that strong?

  20. Gustave- I think Septimus is stronger because he does not accept his reality and therefore commits suicide. On the other hand, Clarissa, still doubting about her love choices, is not living the life she wants but she is just accepting it. She chose social rank as opposed to passion.

    Further, Septimus has gone to war and seen its horrors, whereas Mrs Dalloway has done nothing to be what she is (rich, does she work?). The Mrs Kilman narrative emphasizes this issue.

    Moreover, I think that keeping your preocupations to yourself is weak because you are afraid of what other people might say whereas when you talk about your issues you are ready to accept criticism.

    Overall I think Septimus is stronger.

  21. Tiennot:
    Well, with the doubt of repeating what has been said in the previous arguments of my fellow classmates, I think that Septimus is more courageous (if that is the most appropriate word to use) than Clarissa.

    Yes, Clarissa suffers in silence, she has no one to tell the sickness in her heart, no one to rely on. I agree she is strong, not having the chance to change her lifestyle in this high society, doomed to live her life in silence with her happyness "dwindling" as time pass. But Clarissa is expecting a breakdown, her strongness has limits.

    On the other side, I don't think that anyone of us can imagine the courage that is needed for Septimus to accept to suicide though he loves life ( "He did not want to die. Life was good"). By this suicide, I think Septimus and Lucrezia have chosen not to be manipulated by society, society who has the power to tear them apart, society who can decide anything over them. By refusing to be manipulated, they have decided to stop society from having this victory over them, as it does on so many people. They are some sort of martyrs. Therefore, suicide can not be said to be a weak action without exploring the context of the issue. Septimus was healing toward the end of his life, it seems so certain, can you imagine the courage that was needed for Septimus to leave Lucrezia, who has followed him and loved him in his illness, alone? Though you might say Septimus still did not feel, the book says "he had a sense".