Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/10611
This dissertation explores the relationship between women and the city in Virginia Woolf’s novel from 1925, Mrs. Dalloway. The relationship between people and the urban environment has increasingly become the focus of critics, and the flâneur is often considered to be a key figure in understanding the modern, urban living brought about by industrialisation in Europe. The flâneur took his first steps in the mid-nineteenth-century Paris of Charles Baudelaire, where he strolled the streets in a leisurely manner, observing the city-life. From the 1980s and onwards, the question has been increasingly asked: could there have been a female equivalent of the flâneur ― a flâneuse ― in the nineteenth-century city and if so, what form did she take? Because of the period’s strict gender roles and women’s association with the private, domestic sphere of life, women’s access to the streets was certainly limited. This dissertation brings forward some of the main arguments concerning the possibilities and problems of female flânerie, and argues that in Mrs. Dalloway we can identify a shifting point in women’s presence within the city. The dissertation focuses on the characters of Clarissa Dalloway and her daughter Elizabeth, as the generation difference between those women symbolises the changes that were taking place in British women’s social reality during the interwar years. In order to cast a light upon the period’s changes regarding women’s access to the urban environment, the dissertation explores the gendered division of private and public spheres, the rise of the New Woman and the First World War’s effect on women’s access to the job-market. An encounter in Mrs. Dalloway with an unknown female passer-by in the streets is analysed, as the scene relates back to Baudelaire’s writings on the flâneur and further exerts the change in women’s position within the city.