There is Always a Deep Below: Reality and Moments of Being in Virginia Woolf's The Waves


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Virginia Tech


This essay explores Virginia Woolf's reality through her 1932 novel The Waves. In the novel, Woolf traces the lives of her six characters from childhood to adulthood. As children, the characters experience moments of revelation or what Woolf refers to as moments of being. These moments allow them to see "]some real thing behind appearances" (MB 71), a powerful reality underneath the surface of everyday life. From these moments the characters begin to shape and build their lives, always living in relation to the reality below.

In the center of the novel, the characters come together for farewell dinner for their friend Percival. During the dinner party, the characters articulate their versions of the reality behind appearances. As they speak, they draw together the "severed parts" of reality in order to create a work of art (MB 71), a "globe" that encompasses all their versions of "some real thing" that gives their lives meaning (The Waves 145).



Virginia Woolf, The Waves, Reality