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Course Hero, "Mrs. Dalloway Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed September 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Mrs-Dalloway/.

Mrs. Dalloway | Symbols

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Airplanes

An airplane flies over London in the book's second section, becoming a catalyst for the fears and anxieties of various characters. The airplane, a new technology, symbolizes the swift changes in London's urban society after World War I—changes that inspired the Modernists to reflect on human feelings of confusion and helplessness. Since everyone outside Buckingham Palace is watching the airplane, the symbol brings together Londoners from different walks of life, emphasizing London as a character of its own. The airplane also represents the war, and the shadow of the war that still lingers in the lives of characters like Septimus.

Trees

Septimus asserts, "Men must not cut down trees." For him and others, trees symbolize an everlasting life force that gives meaning to existence in the postwar chaos. Characters like Clarissa and Septimus, aware of the temporary nature of their existence, know and are comforted by the fact that nature (including trees) will outlive them. Peter dreams about a solitary traveler mesmerized by the "spectral presence" of a tree. To Peter, trees represent a mysterious femininity, a force he sees in Clarissa as well.

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