Peter not letting go of Clarissa

“But it was Clarissa one remembered. Not that she was striking; not beautiful at all; there was nothing picturesque about her…however; there she was…No, no, no! He was not in love with her anymore! He only felt…unable to get away from the thought of her …which was not being in love, of course; it was thinking of her, criticizing her, starting again after thirty years, trying to explain to her…she was worldly; cared too much for rank and society and getting on in the world.”

Woolf, Virginia, Mrs. Dalloway (pg. 66)

The passage starts off with Peter remembering his early relationship with Clarissa and the men she could have married. Peter tries to avert his liking to Clarissa, thinking negatively of her and bringing his mind to his present conversation with her in which he was reminded of her flaws.  However, the text shows Peter in a real-time attempt to grapple with the fact that he lost Clarissa. His extensive criticisms can be interpreted as a defense mechanism to cope with losing Clarissa, projecting Richard’s traits onto Clarissa. Peter cannot let the idea of Clarissa go, her memories of her continue to bother and resent him.