Mrs Dalloway

Septimus Warren Smith Character Analysis

A World War I veteran in his thirties, Septimus suffers from shell shock, or PTSD. He was once an aspiring poet, but after enlisting in the war for idealistic reasons and the death of his close friend and officer Evans, Septimus became unable to feel emotion. He married Lucrezia while stationed in Milan. Septimus feels condemned by human nature and is often suicidal and thinks that he has been condemned by the world to die for his failure to feel. In his more intense hallucinations he imagines himself surrounded by flames, or as a prophet with a divine message. Though the two characters never meet, Clarissa and Septimus act as doubles in the novel.

Septimus Warren Smith Quotes in Mrs Dalloway

The Mrs Dalloway quotes below are all either spoken by Septimus Warren Smith or refer to Septimus Warren Smith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Privacy, Loneliness, and Communication Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of Mrs Dalloway published in 1990.
Section 2 Quotes

“Look, look, Septimus!” she cried. For Dr. Holmes had told her to make her husband (who had nothing whatever seriously the matter with him but was a little out of sorts) take an interest in things outside himself.
So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signalling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty… Tears ran down his cheeks.
It was toffee; they were advertising toffee, a nursemaid told Rezia.

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Lucrezia Smith (Rezia) (speaker), Dr. Holmes
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Section 7 Quotes

Septimus was one of the first to volunteer. He went to France to save an England which consisted almost entirely of Shakespeare’s plays and Miss Isabel Pole in a green dress walking in a square.

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith, Miss Isabel Pole
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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“So you’re in a funk,” he said agreeably, sitting down by his patient’s side. He had actually talked of killing himself to his wife, quite a girl, a foreigner, wasn’t she? Didn’t that give her a very odd idea of English husbands? Didn’t one owe perhaps a duty to one’s wife? Wouldn’t it be better to do something instead of lying in bed? For he had forty years’ experience behind him; and Septimus could take Dr. Holmes’s word for it – there was nothing whatever the matter with him.

Related Characters: Dr. Holmes (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith, Lucrezia Smith (Rezia)
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mrs. Peters had a spiteful tongue. Mr. Peters was in Hull. Why then rage and prophesy? Why fly scourged and outcast? Why be made to tremble and sob by the clouds? Why seek truths and deliver messages when Rezia sat sticking pins into the front of her dress, and Mr. Peters was in Hull?

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Lucrezia Smith (Rezia)
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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But he would wait till the very last moment. He did not want to die. Life was good. The sun hot. Only human beings – what did they want? Coming down the staircase opposite an old man stopped and stared at him. Holmes was at the door. “I’ll give it you!” he cried, and flung himself vigorously, violently down on to Mrs. Filmer’s area railings.

Related Characters: Septimus Warren Smith (speaker), Dr. Holmes, Mrs. Filmer
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Section 9 Quotes

She had once thrown a shilling into the Serpentine, never anything more. But he had flung it away… A thing there was that mattered; a thing, wreathed about with chatter, defaced, obscured in her own life, let drop every day in corruption, lies, chatter. This he had preserved. Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded, one was alone. There was an embrace in death.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

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But that young man had killed himself.
Somehow it was her disaster – her disgrace.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

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…and the words came to her, Fear no more the heat of the sun. She must go back to them. But what an extraordinary night! She felt somehow very like him – the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back. She must assemble. She must find Sally and Peter. And she came in from the little room.

Related Characters: Clarissa Dalloway (speaker), Septimus Warren Smith, Peter Walsh, Sally Seton
Related Symbols: Big Ben
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Septimus Warren Smith Character Timeline in Mrs Dalloway

The timeline below shows where the character Septimus Warren Smith appears in Mrs Dalloway. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 2
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...Passersby wonder if the car contains the Queen or the Prime Minister behind its curtains. Septimus Warren Smith, a young veteran of World War I, also hears the car backfire. The... (full context)
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Lucrezia Smith, Septimus’s young Italian wife, is embarrassed and frightened by Septimus’s recent strangeness. He has recently threatened... (full context)
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Lucrezia, who is sitting beside Septimus in the park, tries to distract her husband with the sight of the airplane. His... (full context)
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Septimus’s thoughts grow wilder, and he thinks about being connected with trees. Lucrezia is distraught at... (full context)
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Lucrezia feels all alone, as she knows no one else in England. Meanwhile Septimus is taking note of the revelations he is having, including “Men must not cut down... (full context)
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Lucrezia interrupts Septimus’s visions and tries to distract him by pointing out a group of boys playing cricket.... (full context)
Section 6
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The lady is Lucrezia Smith, who is thinking that she cannot deal with Septimus’s behavior anymore, as he is no longer himself. Lucrezia helps Elise Mitchell up and dusts... (full context)
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Lucrezia wonders angrily why Septimus has been acting so strangely and seeing his dead friend Evans, as lots of other... (full context)
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Lucrezia walks back to Septimus and takes his hand. He notices that she isn’t wearing her wedding ring (it doesn’t... (full context)
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Septimus grows ecstatic over the beauty everywhere, and then Lucrezia tells him it is time to... (full context)
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To Peter, Septimus and Lucrezia’s quarrel is just a part of the bustle and beauty of London. Peter... (full context)
Section 7
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...unhappiness is just a “silly dream.” She is hopeful that Sir William Bradshaw will cure Septimus. (full context)
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Meanwhile Septimus feels that he carries the “greatest message in the world” and is also both the... (full context)
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Mr. Brewer, who was Septimus’s boss at the time and the managing clerk of “Sibleys and Arrowsmiths, auctioneers, valuers, land... (full context)
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Septimus distinguished himself in battle, and then became very close with his officer, Evans. The two... (full context)
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Septimus was billeted in Milan when he met Rezia, who made hats with her sisters. Rezia... (full context)
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Septimus returned to reading Shakespeare, but now he felt that “Shakespeare loathed humanity,” and that this... (full context)
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Septimus would watch Rezia make hats and think about how humans had no real compassion for... (full context)
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...the first time in their marriage, and she said she wanted children and was unhappy. Septimus still couldn’t feel anything, and after this his illness grew more severe, and he would... (full context)
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Septimus did not improve, and he sometimes threatened suicide. Dr. Holmes kept visiting him, but was... (full context)
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Septimus felt that the whole world wanted him to kill himself, but he didn’t want to... (full context)
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...present Big Ben tolls twelve o’clock, Clarissa lays her green dress on her bed, and Septimus and Rezia arrive for their appointment at Sir William Bradshaw’s residence. Sir William is a... (full context)
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Septimus and Rezia arrive and Sir William quickly diagnoses Septimus as in a state of “complete... (full context)
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Septimus tries to confess to Sir William that he has committed a crime against human nature,... (full context)
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Rezia is very upset by this, and when they give this news to Septimus he is wary of Sir William’s “home.” Sir William resents Septimus’s distrust, as Sir William... (full context)
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Sir William tells Septimus that everyone has times of depression, but that no one lives for himself alone. He... (full context)
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Meanwhile Septimus is sitting on the couch at home, watching sunlight play along the wallpaper and thinking... (full context)
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Rezia thinks of the strange things Septimus has been doing lately, like talking to Evans, writing down bits of nonsense (some of... (full context)
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...married daughter of Mrs. Filmer, the Smith’s neighbor. Rezia talks aloud about her work and Septimus opens his eyes cautiously, noticing the “real things” around him. Septimus feels suddenly lucid, contrasting... (full context)
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Septimus says the hat is too small for Mrs. Peters, and he starts to speak in... (full context)
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...Rezia will always like this hat, and cherish the happy memory of making it with Septimus. There is a tap on the door and Rezia worries that it is Sir William,... (full context)
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Septimus wakes up and is terrified to find that he is alone. Rezia has gone to... (full context)
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Rezia returns, talking about Mrs. Peters. She feels happy and comfortable with Septimus now, like she can be honest with him. She remembers the first time they met,... (full context)
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Septimus asks why he must be separated from Rezia, and asks why Sir William has the... (full context)
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Rezia promises to go wherever Septimus goes, and as she gathers the papers and ties them up Septimus thinks of her... (full context)
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...way past her, saying he is there “as a friend,” and heads up the stairs. Septimus hears him coming and thinks of different ways to kill himself and escape. He finally... (full context)
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Septimus does not want to die, as “life was good” and “the sun hot.” He thinks... (full context)
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Dr. Holmes immediately calls Septimus a coward, but Rezia now understands her husband. Mrs. Filmer rushes in and she and... (full context)
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...as Rezia gets sleepy, and she thinks about the war and her happy memories with Septimus. Holmes says that Rezia should not watch as Septimus’s body is carried away, as it... (full context)
Section 8
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Peter Walsh hears the ambulance rush by to pick up Septimus’s body, and he thinks of ambulances as a triumph of civilization. The English health system... (full context)
Section 9
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...Sir William mentions a case of “shell shock,” and then Lady Bradshaw tells Clarissa about Septimus’s suicide. Clarissa is struck by the sudden arrival of death at her party, and angry... (full context)
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Clarissa muses on Septimus’s death and thinks of it as an act of communication and defiance, a preservation of... (full context)
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Clarissa thinks of Septimus’s death as somehow “her disaster – her disgrace.” She has chosen conventionality and life over... (full context)
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...line from Cymbeline: “Fear no more the heat of the sun.” She suddenly identifies with Septimus and is glad that he killed himself, as it makes the beauty and joy of... (full context)