The novel takes place in London, among the English aristocracy, in 1923 and takes only one day. Along with the real events, the reader also gets to know the past of the heroes, thanks to the “stream of consciousness”.
Clarissa Dalloway, a fifty-year-old socialite, the wife of Richard Dalloway, a member of parliament, is preparing for the coming evening at her home reception, to which all the cream of the English high society are expected to attend. She leaves the house and heads to the flower shop, enjoying the freshness of the June morning. On the way she meets Hugh Whitbred, who was familiar to her since childhood, who now occupies a high economic post in the royal palace. Her, as always, strikes his too elegant and well-groomed appearance. Hugh always suppressed it a little; next to him, she feels like a schoolgirl. In the memory of Clarissa Dalloway, the events of her distant youth come to life as she lived in Borton, and Peter Walsh, in love with her, was always furious at the sight of Hugh and assured him that he had no heart or brains, but only manners. Then she did not marry Peter because of his too picky character, but now no, no, and he will think what Peter would have said if he had been there. Clarissa feels infinitely young, but at the same time inexpressibly ancient.
She enters the flower shop and picks up a bouquet. On the street you can hear a sound like a shot. It crashed into the sidewalk machine of one of the “extraordinarily” persons of the kingdom – the Prince of Wales, the queen, perhaps the Prime Minister. At this stage there is Septimus Warren Smith, a young man of thirty, pale, ragged in paltetso and with such concern in his brown eyes that someone take a look at it or, once worried too. He walks with his wife Lucretia, whom he brought back from Italy five years ago. Shortly before that, he told her that he would commit suicide. She is afraid that people would hear his words and try to get him out of the pavement as soon as possible. With him often there are nervous attacks, he has hallucinations, it seems to him that dead men appear before him, and then he talks to himself. Lucretia can no longer bear it. She is annoyed at Dr. Douma, who assures her: her husband is all right, absolutely nothing serious. She feels sorry for herself. Here in London, she was all alone, away from his family, sisters who are still in Milan, sit in a comfortable room and master straw hats, as she and her before the wedding. And now there is no one to protect her. Her husband no longer loves her. But she would never tell anyone that he was crazy.
Mrs. Dalloway enters the house with the flowers, where the servants have been bustling for a long time, preparing him for the evening reception. Near the phone, she sees a note from which it appears that Lady Brutn was calling and wondered if Mr. Dalloway was going to have breakfast with her today. Lady Brutn, this influential high-society lady, her, Clarissa, did not invite. Clarissa, whose head is full of sad thoughts about her husband and her own life, rises to her bedroom. She remembers her youth: Borton, where she lived with her father, her friend Sally Seton, a beautiful, lively and direct girl, Peter Walsh.