Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who is Percival?

             When I think of Percival throughout the novel, I wonder, what was Woolf's intention with this seventh character whose mind is the only one we the readers do not get the chance to be a part of? He appears absent and silent, but his presence is strong and lingers throughout the novel. The only things one can draw about Percival are learned through the other six characters: Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny, Rhoda, and Susan. He exists in the monologues of these six characters. To me, Percival represents many things. I believe that one of Percival's purposes is to serve as a mirror in the novel of Bernard, Neville, Louis, Jinny, Rhoda, and Susan's selves.
               A dominant theme throughout "The Waves" is the theme of searching for one's identity. The novel follows the lives of the six main characters. Each of the six characters is searching for himself/herself. When Percival is not around, one can see the loss of self that all six of the characters feel. An example of this is when Rhoda says: "I have no face. Other people have faces (p.29)." When Rhoda refers to "face," it seems apparent that she is talking about identity. Another example of this is when Rhoda says: "Alone, I often fall down into nothingness. I must push my foot stealthily lest I should fall off the edge of the world into nothingness (p.30)." I believe that Percival represents a stable and ideal self to the six main characters. Whenever Percival comes around, I feel that the six characters see themselves. He is the force that allows the six characters to come together to form a single, united, and harmonious one. I believe that Woolf was exploring the multiple aspects of one person through the six main characters. The six characters could be seen as representing the modern self, while Percival represents a traditional self, one that the other six characters long to be.

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