"...this question of love... this falling in love with women."

As I watched the staged reading of, Virginia, the portrayal of Woolf’s relationship with Vita reminded me of the love between Clarissa Dalloway and Sally Seton. I believe that in this instance of, Mrs Dalloway, Woolf’s voice is most clearly heard, as she, herself, experienced a relationship quite similar to the relationship of Sally and Clarissa. It was through the performances that I could grasp the importance of Vita’s and Virginia’s relationship, that I could further understand that, “something central which permeated; something warm which broke up surfaces and rippled the cold contact of man and woman, or of women together.(34)”

Undoubtedly, the fictional relationship between Clarissa and her friend, and Woolf’s love affair have their differences. One might assume that Woolf’s real life affair was more sexual, that Clarissa’s and Sally’s relationship was hardly an affair. Still, in the play, Virginia, there was certainly allusion and ambiguity when portraying the relationship. Were they sexual lovers? Were they simply very close friends? I found the same allusion in the descriptions of Sally and Clarissa’s relationship. When the moment finally comes along, when, “Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips,” the women are interrupted by Peter. It’s unclear whether or not this is the most it comes to. We can make our own conclusions about what these relationships consisted of, but none the less, this love for Vita, for another woman, is imbedded in Woolf's writing, and therefore could certainly be the inspiration for the relationship between Clarissa and Sally.

The brilliant portrayals of Virginia and Vita revealed Virginia as more timid around Vita, certainly in awe of Vita, possibly even more attached than Vita was to Virginia. Woolf writes, “…all that evening she could not take her eyes off of Sally.(35)” While reading, I could not help but imagine Woolf in the same position, surrounded by potential husbands, and pressures, and expectations, and oddly not being able to take her eyes off of a woman. In the play, Vita was portrayed as more flirtatious than Virginia, who seemed less in control of herself when Vita was around. In these moments, Virginia didn’t argue, didn’t quarrel. Instead, she blushed and seemed incredibly affected by Vita. With this said, Vita seems similar to Sally, who’s, “power was amazing, her gift, her personality.” Additionally, in, Virginia, Leonard is shown acting jealously, at one moment telling Vita to stay away from Virginia- that Virginia is ill and Vita is not helping. Vita is insulted and says that he can not take Virginia away from her. We find this jealously of a man when Peter interrupts Clarissa’s and Sally’s moment alone. Woolf writes, “She felt not only how Sally was being mauled already, maltreated; she felt his hostility; his jealousy; his determination to break into their companionship. (39)”

It seems plausible that, “this question of love… this falling in love with women” is found in Mrs. Dalloway because of Woolf’s own experiences, her own questioning (35). Clarissa’s love for Sally sprung from a deep connection, wildly different from the attraction of a man to a woman; instead this love is based upon “purity… integrity”, “a quality which could only exist between women, between women just grown up”, and we can assume this is how her own love affair began as well (37). These moments where Woolf describes Clarissa’s love for Sally seem especially genuine, especially personal, as her love for Vita was undeniably strong and influential. “Had not that, after all, been love?”