The Waves | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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Course Hero. "The Waves Study Guide." August 30, 2019. Accessed September 28, 2020.


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Virginia Woolf

Year Published






Perspective and Narrator

Each of the nine chapters of The Waves begins from the perspective of a third-person omniscient narrator. This objective narration, set off in italicized type, describes the different positions of the sun in the sky during one day. There are six main characters in The Waves, and each character serves as a first-person narrator. Through soliloquies, each character takes a turn directly speaking to the reader, revealing his or her own thoughts about events and characters in the story.


In The Waves, the first-person soliloquies are told in the present tense, while the introductory interludes are relayed in the past tense.

About the Title

In the novel The Waves, waves offer symbolic opportunities to compare the chaotic rhythms of human lives to those of the sea. Virginia Woolf's working title for the text was The Moths. In choosing The Waves instead, she directs a focus on the vital waves of human emotion at the center of each chapter rather than on the human fragility that the working title suggests.


This study guide for Virginia Woolf's The Waves offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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