View Full Version : A Brilliant Beginning

Rachel Reischling
05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
I have read many other Virginia Woolf works, and I can safely say this is the most conventional, which is not surprising, considering it is her first novel, published in 1915 when the author was 33 years old. Considering her other novels, it is perhaps not spectacular, but when compared to other authors' works, it is easy to see what a literary genius Woolf truly is. (I only hope my first attempt is as brilliant).<br>The story is a real one--and I stress the word real. This is no conventional coming-of-age story; the heroine faces obstacles unique to her situation, and the love story is neither contrived nor unnatural. Thus the reader becomes a voyeur, looking through a window at people we feel must be living, breathing souls. This is part of Woolf's brilliance. <br>And yet, the characters always feel a bit wooden. Rachel is not the most finely-wrought character, in my opinion. It is her aunt, Helen Ambrose, whom I feel is most finely drawn out by the author. In the end, it almost becomes a novel in which both Helen and Rachel are the heroines, not just Rachel herself. <br>I finished the novel today, and tried to come up with a satisfactory conclusion: perhaps "life goes on" or "drink every moment to the lees" but they both sound contrived and cliched. Perhaps it's simpler than that. Perhaps Woolf simply wanted a book in which happy endings don't occur, because happy endings belong in fairy tales and not always in real life. Her words smack of truth, which in the end, is far more important than flowery make-believe.<br>

11-11-2005, 11:37 AM
I believe that the author uses the characters to explore the connections between people. Hirst particularly mulls over whther we ecan ever really know what another thinks. Evelyn struggles to make connections. Helen and St. John are able to make an intellectual connection. Rachel begins to realize that it is these connections that are important. In the end none of the characters are really able to truly connect to another.

The use of the setting, and imperialism, help this theme by demonstrating that the characters are alkso disconnected even from the life of the place around them. The English dod not belong in the jungle. Which of course, tragically concludes in Rachels death, presumably from malaria.

11-16-2005, 10:07 PM
It seems to me that far from necessarily depriving Rachel of a happy ending, Rachel's death is the ONLY way that The Voyage Out can avoid anticlimax. As the couple deal with life engaged, we can already see how Hewet attempts to mould his fiancee into his own image. He distracts her from her playing, he makes her write responses to all the congratulatory letters they have recieved. It becomes quite clear that her needs and interests must be subservient to his once they are married. Of course, this is not a problem at this point, but it WILL be. They are a wonderfully happy couple, but the honeymoon period will end, and once it has, the wonder of this acme of life experience will be inevitably dissipated by cold march of time and its qualifying passage. Remember Hewet's grief after Rachel's death? (I'm not referring to the text here, so I may be taking liberties) He knows that at that instant he has complete possession of her - that she can be everything he wants her to be, and can never grow tired of him. Their mutual love is preserved in its entirety because it cannot become stale... their relationship cannot age because it has been frozen immovably in time by her death. Death, time, and the etiolation of experience.. all these things seem to be the quintessence of what Woolf is concerned with in ALL her books.