The Presentation Of Morality In The Waves By Virginia Woolf

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A current and common reading of Virginia Woolf’s experimental novel The Waves places the character of Bernard against his friends as a dominating force. The novel is noted for its pluralism. The six speaking characters in The Waves express themselves through short monologues, sharing nearly equal space with one another until the concluding section. It is over the final forty-four pages of the novel that Bernard is fully emphasized, the voices of Louis, Rhoda, Jinny, Neville, and Susan giving way to his alone.
It is this moment Gabrielle McIntire explores in her essay “Heteroglossia, Monologism, and Fascism: Bernard reads The Waves,” arguing for an understanding of both Bernard and the novel that is deeply influenced by Woolf’s anti-fascist
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Under her analysis, the text can be viewed as a complex examination of everyday tendencies toward the domination of plurality that fascism—on a much greater and more obviously dangerous level—demands. The existence of many separate voices necessarily entails a messiness, or even chaos, that is exceedingly difficult to maintain. Sustained plurality requires the suppression of any strong attachment to a centralizing figure, such as Percival, or more historically, the Fascist state. In The Waves, Woolf uses Bernard to equate narration to a collapse of difference. Bernard’s summation certainly requires the understanding of otherness through the lens of the self. However, this very self-identity owes its generation and sustained existence to the community it attempts to control, a paradox that Bernard not only demonstrates, but also self-consciously observes in his own …show more content…
As each of his friends is an individual being, their internal motivations and thoughts are impossible for him to understand. In order to move forward in the world according to his own knowledge and wishes, Bernard must craft a narrative for himself that is uninfluenced by the personal courses of the other characters. Bernard describes this individualism as invoking the feeling of lying “in [a] ditch unregarded” (219). This separation, while essential, is exceedingly difficult and

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