The Second Mrs. Dalloway

This is a story about Marjorie Dalloway, a 46-year-old woman from Surrey, who abhors spotted dick, and who has a minor fit every time her name is spelled M-A-R-G-E-R-I-E. She believes it is an ugly way to spell her name, and claims that it makes her feel unbecoming.

She has lost several friends over this peculiarity.

Mrs. Dalloway was born in the year 1970 – a very tumultuous year, she considers. There were two Prime Ministers, that annum, not to mention the fact that the half-crown ceased to be legal tender. She has since researched the subject on the Internet (a platform with which she is not entirely familiar, but is attempting to manipulate), and has discovered that many horrendous things took place during the year of her birth. But, she considers herself a lady – and though she will often tell guests at her dinner parties that, indeed, horrendous things did occur, she judges that it is unbecoming to go into further detail about it. The subject is hers, she says – and hers alone – to ponder wretchedly in the darkness of her bedroom.

On account of her name, and on account of the fact that she is a writer, Mrs. Dalloway often suffers from the presumption that she is an admirer of Virginia Woolf. She cannot see why the two seemingly unrelated details should inspire this widespread belief – but they have, just the same, and she is left inconsolable. If she must explain, just one more time, that she is no fan of Ms. Woolf (she always pronounces Virginia’s name like that, with a sarcastic emphasis which should be enough, by itself, to demonstrate how little she cares for her), then she feels that she may actually lose her mind, and be driven to some desperate action.

Perhaps she will leap from some high precipice. Or perhaps she will stab herself. Yes, that would be the better way – for, if she were to skewer herself, probably she would not die, and then she would be left with the chance of seeing how her persecutors regretted having tormented her.

“Do you see?” she would ask them. “Do you see what’s become of me? I told you what would happen, if I heard her name once more! But no – just one too many hot toddies, and your lips were loose as the hookers in the East End. Now I have impaled myself, just like dear Juliet – and I’m sure my fate shall be the same. But no – no! I beg you, don’t resort to self-pity. The blame is not yours alone.”

And that, for all intents and purposes, is Ms. Marjorie Dalloway.

(To be continued.)


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