The Waves, first published in 1931, is Virginia Woolf’s most experimental novel. It consists of soliloquies spoken by the book’s six characters: Bernard, Susan, Rhoda, Neville, Jinny, and Louis. Also important is Percival, the seventh character, though readers never hear him speak in his own voice. The soliloquies that span the characters’ lives are broken up by nine brief third-person interludes detailing a coastal scene at varying stages in a day from sunrise to sunset.
As the six characters or “voices” speak Woolf explores concepts of individuality, self and community. Each character is distinct, yet together they compose (as Ida Klitgård has put it) a gestalt about a silent central consciousness.