Traumatized Construction of Male and Female Identities in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

Leila Baradaran Jamili, Ziba Roshanzamir


This paper regards traumatized formation of characters’ identities in Virginia Woolf’s (1882-1941) The Waves (1931). Trauma is considered as a devastating phenomenon which has horribly and dreadfully some effects on an individual’s self and identity. The aftereffects of a shocking and traumatic event on one’s sense of self contribute extremely to the collapse of the construction of his or her identity. Undoubtedly, the different sorts of trauma, like individual and historical trauma, have incorporated Woolf’s life. Actually, Woolf’s disoriented self is defined based on the affective representation of her traumatized identity through her painful experiences over her lifetime. This paperfocuses on Cathy Caruth’s (1955-) critical views concerning the concept of trauma. Caruth believes that trauma is a mental wound associated with the latency, referring to the return of the traumatic experiences after a period of delay or deja vuin the form of repeated flashbacks, nightmares, and so forth. In The Waves, the male and female characters like Bernard, Neville, Louis, Rhoda, Jinny, and Susan are traumatized due to a number of traumatic events, so that the construction of their identities can be trapped in some kind of post-traumatic stress disorders as the effects of their traumas. Through presentingthe characters, in the novel, Woolf delineates the traumatized selves and identities involved in some sort of psychic fragmentation and disintegration that haunt inevitably their lives and respondtraumatically to their traumas, pain, and suffering in different ways.


Trauma, Construction of Identity, Self, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Latency

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