The Waves

Writing to a Rhythm, Not a Plot in Woolf's 'The Waves'

In The World Without a Self: Virginia Woolf and the Novel, James Naremore discusses how one is struck, not only by a "certain ... diversity" among the six voices within Virginia Woolf's The Waves, but simultaneously by the "sameness of things" where "the speeches often seem like one pervasive voice with six personalities" (1973: 151). Contributing to this "sameness" are the similarities in form and style of the six voices, which appear not only alike between characters, but also throughout their progression from childhood to adulthood. This rhythmic notion manifests throughout the text in complex and varying ways, and it is precisely this tension between the individuals, specifically Louis, Rhoda and Bernard, and their "underlying equivalence" which within this essay will look at these characters notion of self as a means for Woolf using the idea of writing to a rhythm, not a plot and showing how it alters her representation of narrative, time and character in The Waves.

One can see in the beginning "series of dramatic" soliloquies the stark isolation of Louis and Rhoda in the novel's structure. Louis is anxiously aware of his Australian accent and alien roots,...

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