Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in English



First Advisor

Rachel Hollander

Second Advisor

Amy King


By examining the male characters in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves, this thesis seeks to explore the ways in which Woolf provides feminist commentary on masculinity, identity, and performance. In focusing on how these characters express emotion and perform masculinity, the novels highlight the ways in which men are expected to act as opposed to how they feel. This is seen in the interactions between Woolf’s characters as she showcases relationships between men and women, as well as those men have with each other. In Mrs. Dalloway, Peter Walsh and Richard Dalloway both perform masculinity by expressing their emotions through tangible objects. In The Waves, Percival is a hypermasculine and idolized figure for the main characters and the novel revolves around him. His performance of a masculine identity makes it so that he does not need to have a speaking role in order to be important. However, Percival’s lack of perspective hides everything about him that could be considered feminine, including his emotions. Bernard crafts the story of The Waves, controlling the narrative. This causes him to have a unique connection with the other characters and the events that take place in the novel, separating him from the emotions that they cause.