Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Waves- Virginia Woolf

Staying true to her other novels like To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves is not told through conventional methods. The Waves is a story about six individuals as the go from being children to adults. Like in her other novels, however, the main focus of the novel is not the physical actions of the characters but rather the individual consciousness and how they interact with the other characters. The entire book is written and told through soliloquies given by the six characters Bernard, Neville, Jinny, Susan, Rhoda, and Louis. Each character's consciousness reveals their desires and their personality; Louis is a misfit who seeks his own place in society; Neville desires to be loved and to love; Jinny is a socialite who bases her opinion of herself on the opinions of those around her; Susan rejects the modern city and returns to the countryside to become a mother; Rhoda constantly doubts himself, causing him to seclude himself from others. Percival, the final character, is the flawed hero to the other characters in the novel. He dies before the end of the novel and never speaks. Therefore, the reader is left to learn about him from the other characters. Woolf's novel follows these characters from their childhood days to their adult lives, allowing the reader to see the troubles and challenges that each character, each having their own strengths and weaknesses, deals with in life.

Discussion Questions:

1) Throughout the novel, each character struggles to define themselves. Neville, for example, defines himself by opposing society and its conventions while Jenny defines herself by society. How do you define yourself and is their a right or a wrong way to do so?

2) In her novels, Woolf typically uses a stream of consciousness technique rather than focusing on the physical when writing about a group of characters' struggle to define themselves. Why do you think she tells her stories this way instead of via a more conventional approach?


Brad S 11-12 said...

1. I define myself by whatever i think and do. I do not give myself a label; my definition is just 'because i am.' I do not over analyze my traits or flaws. I just simply live. I do not think there is a right or wrong way to define oneself. I just believe that we are all different and that is what makes up unique and definable in our own ways.

Amanda Z. 11-12 said...

1. I don't think people should have definitions for themselves. I think its limiting to one's personal growth. Obviously, people have certain characteristics but restricting yourself to a specific set isnt conducive to a healthy life.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. I definatly agree with Brad and Amanda. I don't think people should define themselves and there is not a right or wrong way to do so. Society, or opposing society, can help develop your views and traits but being defined by one thing is absurd.

allie s 11-12 said...

1)Most people say that they don't have a label, that they are who they are. I agree with everyone's comments. But most poeple do not like to label themselves, but in reality, its society that labels us. We can't help it, its just the nature of humans. The right way is just to be yourself and not care what others say, and not let them define you. Only you can define you.:)

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

I define myself as someone who is creative, empathetic and someone who is a "people person." I generally like the company of others and like being unique. I have a tendency to be very outspoken and make my point regardless of if others like to hear it or not, although is has never been a problem for me because people always know where i stand. I think that there IS a wrong way to define yourself, and that is by using anything that is either not yourself or fake is a definition or expression that is not accurate and rather misleading. A true way to define yourself is honest, open and true, even if you think others won't agree. The key is being comfortable enough with yourself that you don't care what others think.