The concept that Peter Walsh’s views in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway are a hidden critique of her fellow Bloomsbury member Clive Bell’s incendiary essay Civilization is in no way innovative or groundbreaking, having been recognized and expanded upon by biographers and literary critics alike. However, this comparison is deceptively easy to extend to realms in which it does not apply. Woolf is first and foremost a novelist, and Peter Walsh is first and foremost a character in a novel. As such, Peter’s presence in Mrs. Dalloway should not be interpreted as a commentary on Bell’s Civilization, but rather as a stand-in for Bell, whose relationship with Virginia Woolf echoes the foundations of love and insecurity on which Peter and Clarissa’s relationship is built.
Smith, Ian '26, "A Hidden Window: Love and Insecurity for Peter and Clive" (2022). Best First-Year Seminar Writing. 12, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.