Messages And Symbolism In Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

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To the Lighthouse is a novel full of hidden messages, symbolism and history. All of these elements make “To the Lighthouse” a novel that is not easy to read. There are no clears signs within the novel telling us “Hey look here!! This is where the action is!!” The novel also lacks to mention when the events all takes place, who is speaking, and lastly does not give us an indication in what way we should think and feel of them. Virginia Woolf’s novel opens with an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked yet. This answer is given by a character who is not identified or described, and is addressed to the child who is sitting on the floor near a “drawing room window” in an undisclosed place that is also not described or identified. Also within this novel, there is not much respect for the standard novelistic conventions of clock time or consecutive action. Just when the audience starts to think that they’ve begun to establish an order of events, they start to realize that Woolf seems to take pleasure in confusing her audience by inserting an event or idea that has happened in the past or she anticipates a reaction, so that time in her novelistic world, the past and present and future, seem to flow into one another in an unbroken stream of consciousness.
In modern fiction today, one of the modern themes that can be seen throughout these works is the Das Unheimliche or “The Uncanny” due to the influence of Sigmund Freud during this era and also due to the life style of post war era as well as authors wanting the fiction to be relatable to the real world today. First I would like to provide some historical background for Woolf’s novel “To the Lighthouse.” This background information will be about the time when Virginia Woolf was livi...

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...l its civilizing influences are doomed to be “pitched downwards to the depths of darkness” (TL: 138). A place which is all too familiar to Mr. Ramsay because throughout the novel he has become a prisoner in this darkness because he has allowed himself to be trapped within the confines of the uncanny that exists in his subconscious mind and is starting to bloom and grow in his conscious state of being. In essays written between 1919 and 1925, Woolf talks mostly, as we have already seen, about extending the novel to embrace human consciousness, to provide a more accurate record of the flickering emotions of everyday life. By doing this, Woolf has created a bridge between the fictional world of her novel and the reality of the world in which we live. These ideas of consciousness play on our emotions and as an audience it allows to be emotionally involved in the novel.
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