Monday, February 22, I presented on the opinions of Shell Shock after World War I in regards to Mrs. Dalloway. Mental illness was stigmatized as a women’s issue, labeled hysteria. A majority of people saw the soldiers that fell victim of Shell Shock weak; they were not acting like ‘true men’ because they were not in fully in control of their body and emotions. German psychiatrist during the war said the soldiers claiming to be suffering from Shell Shock had poor morale and did not acknowledge Shell Shock as a mental illness.
Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway was a revolutionary character in literature because he showed the trauma and ugliness of war. Virginia Woolf shows characters being dismissive of Septimus’ condition, even the doctors that were supposed to take care of him. Septimus is suffering from Shell Shock; this was a result of repressing is emotions during the war because that is what men were expected to do. He prides himself on the fact that he was able to ‘react reasonably’ (Woolf 86) to the death of his friend, Evans. His first doctor, Dr. Holmes, regarded Septimus’ disease as nerve symptoms as a result of combat, (Woolf 91). The second doctor, Sir William Bradshaw, recommended that Septimus be sent to the countryside and placed in solitary confinement because that would be best for his wife’s sanity, (Woolf 96). Bradshaw was not even concerned about Septimus, or focused on a cure for his condition. Woolf herself suffered from mental illness and was probably one few writing about it in 1925. Few understand the implications of mental illness and that time; even today mental illness is not fully understood.
Today mental illness is still not really talked about; in many ways to have a mental illness is to be weak. For example, my junior year in high school the community was shocked to discover that Madison Holleran had committed suicide. She had been suffering from depression and jumped off a parking garage at the University of Pennsylvania. On the surface her life seemed perfect; she was a star athlete, smart, beautiful, and super nice, everyone loved her. She told her parents that she wasn’t happy, but no one would expect her to take her own life. Though on the surface she seemed to have everything, she was not happy and she thought she had to be. Her family has risen above this tragic event to spread awareness for mental illness. Her father has created a foundation in her name, The Madison Holleran Foundation. The homepage of the website quotes Virginia Woolf: “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.”