Character of Mr. Ramsay in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

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The Character of Mr. Ramsay in To The Lighthouse

When reading novels, it is important to understand the aspects of each character to completely get the message that the author is trying to send to the reader. In the novel, To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf illustrates the character, Mr. Ramsay as a husband and a father of eight. As a husband, he mentally abuses his wife, Mrs. Ramsay, and as a father, Mr. Ramsay discourages and psychologically abuses his children to an extent that makes his children hate him. Mr. Ramsay has another side of compassion, and love for his family. Woolf describes Mr. Ramsay as insensitive, malicious, and brutal toward his family, but he also desires happiness and wants the best for his family.

Although Mr. Ramsay often scolds and mentally abuses Mrs. Ramsay, all he wants is love and affection from his wife. For example, when Mrs. Ramsay lies to James about the next day's weather, "There wasn't the slightest chance that we could go to the lighthouse tomorrow" (31). This comment shows that, if Mr. Ramsay doesn't want to do something, they are not going to do it. During the same conversation Mr. Ramsay say something that he would later realize he shouldn't of said. Mr. Ramsay regrets getting upset at his wife for no reason and he is ashamed of the actions that he took. As a result of hurt that he caused his wife, Mr. Ramsay wants to make her happy again.

Next, the novel displays Mr. Ramsay's insensitivity towards Mrs. Ramsay when his comments make her "bend her head as if to let the pelt of jagged hail, the drench the dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked" (32). This illustrates Mr. Ramsay as heartless to other's feelings, it seems like he enjoys torm...

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... are abusive, but he also has the positive traits of sincerity and sensitivity toward his family. Woolf illustrated Mr. Ramsay as both mentally abusive, but also loving and caring toward his wife, Mrs. Ramsay. Mr. Ramsay is very harsh and critical toward his children because he wants the best for them and for them to become self-sufficient, but his children do not realize this and makes them hate being around their father. Woolf does not describe Mr. Ramsay as only bad or good, but she describes him as a real person with personality flaws. She does this because it makes it easier for the reader to understand the individual as a whole, instead of just a fictitious character. By using this writing technique, Woolf allows the readers to fully grasp the concept of the character.

Works Cited

Woolf, Virginia. To The Lighthouse. New York: Harvest, 1955.
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