Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rachel Reading Ibsen

In The Voyage Out, reading plays an important role revealing certain things about the characters without Woolf explicitly stating them. Because of the importance that Woolf places on reading, I found Rachel’s choice of Ibsen especially interesting. Woolf references Rachel’s reading of Ibsen a few times, and I think it is safe to assume that based on Rachel’s literary choices, she probably read Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. This play is critical of marriage conventions and ends with the heroine, Nora, leaving her husband after telling him she wants to find out who she really is as an individual, thus giving an unconventional ending for a woman during that time. I found it interesting that Rachel mirrors this desire to find out more about what she can do as an individual separate from the institution of marriage. However, the conventions of the people around her cause her to consider what society expects and I think that is why she believes that she should be engaged to Terrence. In the end, neither Rachel nor Nora can reconcile themselves to their current societal roles, however I think Nora’s fate vindicates her choice more than Rachel’s death, which almost serves as a lesson.

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