Society of African Journal Editors

International Journal of English and Literature

What a Lark! What a Plunge! The influence of Sigmund Freud on Virginia Woolf

Authors: Heather Roetto

Journal: International Journal of English and Literature

To what extent did Sigmund Freud influence Virginia Woolf? Although they shared an advocacy for truth by means of stream of consciousness narration and free association, Woolf claimed to have had only superficial knowledge of Freud. Even if this was true, she could not help but be aware of his theories of psychoanalysis through the media of her day or by way of her publisher Hogarth Press, which published Freud. As Woolf looked closely at her own mental illness through Septimus Warren Smith in Mrs Dalloway, it would seem that Freud’s theories of hysteria, depression, and psychosexual development took shape within her pages. However, it was not until Woolf admitted to reading Freud after his death that she used his knowledge to delve into the traumas of her past, which argues that perhaps Freud had more of an impact on Woolf after all.   Key words: Virginia Woolf, Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis, mental illness, and Mrs Dalloway.