Asked • 04/19/19

Why does Susan say her "eyes are hard" when suffering an emotional breakdown in the Waves (Virginia Woolf)?

>"I love," said Susan, "and I hate. I desire one thing only. My eyes are hard. Jinny's eyes break into a thousand lights. Rhoda's are like those pale flowers to which moths come in the evening. [Bernard's] grow full and brim and never break." Source: The Waves (Virginia Woolf) This describes Susan's emotional breakdown when seeing Jinny kissing Bernard. Critics have noted that this is describing what the children are seeing, and not the appearance of the eyes. But I am having trouble understanding the imagery of the eyes here. Why are Susan's eyes being described as "hard", Jinny's as "breaking into a thousand lights", and so on?

Brenda C.

Well, I can give you MY best answer. I think Susan's eyes are "hard" because she has completely shut down. In my opinion, "the eyes are the windows to the soul." So, by Woolf using the word "hard" to describe eyes, she means that the owner of those eyes has shut down her heart in order to protect herself. And Jinny's eyes "break into a thousand lights" because she shocked (at being caught?) or something similar. I hope this helps.
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06/13/19

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CaChereal A. answered • 04/19/19

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