Throughout Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, we see how unstable Septimus is post-war. He gets frustrated because he cannot seem to understand what is going on with him and others around him. When World War One ended, there were a large number of veterans that were diagnosed with shell shock. Families and even doctors were unfamiliar with these conditions. They had no way of adequately treating these victims who experienced shell shock. Virginia Woolf places Septimus character in the novel with the intentions of presenting the state of mind that veterans came home with. Septimus made a conscious decision to join the military, and if one knew that they would have to deal with the traumatic stress throughout their lives, most would have probably opted out. In the novel, Septimus no longer has a voice for himself. He was fostered by the decisions of his wife, who acted as a guardian for him. As Septimus visits the doctors, they thought that there was “nothing the matter” with him (Woolf 33). Due to the lack of knowledge of the families and doctors, the veterans struggled to live their daily lives. The trauma Septimus experienced made him sensitive to sounds, objects, and people around him. These types of sensitivities lead one to thoughts of committing suicide like Septimus. Sir William Bradshaw suggested that he needed to rest for him to heal, and Septimus had other plans for himself. He was a man and wanted to be able to make his own decisions even though they might not have been rational. Dr. Sir William Bradshaw suggested Septimus needed, “rest, rest, rest; a long rest” ( Woolf 96) and this was metaphorical for the the desire he had to commit suicide.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co, 1925. Print.