The Voyage Out Themes & Motifs

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Miscommunication/Inadequacy of Language

Woolf uses miscommunication between her characters to examine the limits of language and human communication. Many of the characters in this novel have trouble relating to or communicating with each other. Rachel in particular is shy and has difficulty expressing herself and articulating her feelings. This often leads to her frustration. In one instance, Hirst reacts to Rachel's dislike of Gibbon, a historian whose book he leant her: "'I give you up in despair,' he said. He meant it lightly, but she took it seriously, and believed that her value as a human being was lessened because she did not know how to admire the style of Gibbon" (247). Rachel takes what was meant as a joke very personally and lashes out at Hirst.

Woolf inhabits many perspectives in great depth, showing to what extent the characters misinterpret each other's intent. Later, following...

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This section contains 2,365 words
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Buy The Voyage Out Study Guide
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