Silence In Novels

1947 Words 8 Pages
The Peculiarities of Words, Their Meanings, and Their Place in Novels

The contrast between the usage of words and silence in these novels creates two separate ideas of how language works within a novel. As Woolf states in “Craftmanship,” “It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most unteachable of all things… But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind” and that is why there is such a radically different approach to them in these two novels (Selected Essays, 89). Words are fickle and can be used multiple ways. “At the first reading the useful meaning… is conveyed; But soon as we sit looking at the words they shuffle, they change,” and they change within these novels by how they are
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In the introduction of BTA, Frank Kermode states that the silences are useful because “… [they], intended and not intended… interrupt human transactions with time” (BTA, xxx). Silence is almost a tangible thing where characters can do things such as “The picture drew them down the paths of silence. Lucy broke it” to the idea of a word (BTA 42). The same can be said for how the novels use words; by this, I mean spoken words or words that express ideas of the characters and not, necessarily, the way words are used to formulate these novels. Orlando struggles with the limited use of language having “words [that] failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue” and is unable to describe to Sasha how he sees her (Orlando, 46). Both silence and words provide the characters with a voice. Without the novel’s use of both of these actions, the characters would be incomplete and unable to express, or act through the process of inaction, the depths of their thoughts. “’ All that fuss about nothing?’ a voice exclaimed… the voice stopped. But the voice had seen; the voice had heard,” and allowing this voice to speak allows the character to express his/herself (The Waves, 124). By letting this voice pierce through the silence, the audience is permitted to see a new way of thinking about the situation. Though sometimes spoken about, the idea or action of spoken words and silences are mostly left to actions, …show more content…
‘That boy is going to school for the first time,” says the housemaid…” (The Waves, 22). And, yet, the fact that Bernard reiterates himself by inserting the housemaid’s dialogue is strange. Dialogue within the streaming dialogue is common throughout the novel, but there is a question of why. The whole of the novel is spoken actions with character’s thoughts placed inside. In some ways, having the housemaid is no different than inserting dialogue into a novel, but there is no reason to insert her words here. Bernard has already told the audience that he is going to school and that everyone else knows it but he chooses to reiterate it with words instead of silence. This could be because he wanted to prove his statement with an example but there is really no reason for the audience not to trust him. Instead, this insertion of dialogue prevents a compressed silence from forming in between his thoughts on this and telling himself not to cry. The audience must “listen” to someone else’s voice. Unlike the other novels where a character’s dialogue is interrupted with actions, and thus a pseudo-silence, the dialogue is broken up with more dialogue. This is significant not only because it replaces the necessity of silence, but it does so without much thought on the

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