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Maze, J.R. (1983). Virginia Woolf: Ideas of Marriage and Death in The Voyage Out. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:95-104.

(1983). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10:95-104

Virginia Woolf: Ideas of Marriage and Death in The Voyage Out

J. R. Maze


The latent content of Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, foreshadows that of To the Lighthouse. The expedition up the great river is a metaphor for the young person's aspiration to the maternal privileges of copulation and child-bearing. During this expedition the engagement of Terence Hewet and Rachel Vinrace (a persona for the author) provokes concealed hostility in Rachel's surrogate mother, Helen Ambrose (a portrayal of the author's older sister, Vanessa). Rachel's death is a consequence of her sexual presumptions. Male sexuality, as well as maternal jealousy, is seen as destructive, and copulation is equated with death. There are many symbolic allusions to incestuous attachments, from which the author's sexual anxieties may have arisen. Some tentative connexions with her own approaching marriage are drawn.

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