Study Guide

Hugh Whitbread in Mrs Dalloway

By Virginia Woolf

Hugh Whitbread

Hugh is an old friend of Clarissa. He's in town taking his ailing wife to see doctors, and Clarissa runs into him while running errands for her party. Hugh is among the novel’s most pathetic, oily figures, caring above all about being British in an oblivious and unquestioning way. He helps Millicent Bruton write a letter to the Times and is way too pleased with it, believing himself a committed reformer. No one seems to like him very much though: Peter sees Hugh as a villain, mostly for being a conservative middle-class British man. Sally Seton also dislikes him. Having argued with Sally years ago at Bourton, Hugh then kissed her as a sort of punishment – probably knowing that she would be disgusted. (Which, by the way, she absolutely was.) Even Richard doesn’t think much of him, despite their similarly conservative views.