Parallels to the Author in To The Lighthouse, by Virginina Woolf

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Virginia Woolf's 'To the Lighthouse' is a fine example of modernist literature, like her fellow modernist writers James Joyce and D.H Lawrence. This novel in particular is of the most autobiographical. The similarities between the story and Woolf's own life are not accidental. The lighthouse, situations and deaths within the novel are all parallel to Woolf's childhood, she wrote in her diary 'I used to think of [father] & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind ….(I believe this to be true – that I was obsessed by them both, unheathily; & writing of them was a necessary act). Woolf, Diary, 28 November 1928) Woolf like many other modernist writers uses stream of consciousness, this novel in particular features very little dialogue, preferring one thought, memory or idea to trigger another, providing an honest if not reliable account of the characters lives. There novels motifs are paired with many of the novels images. The novel features two main motifs that Woolf appears to be interested in examining, firstly we notice the relationships' between men and women and the other appears to be Woolf's use of parenthesis. The novels images only become apparent once these motifs have been explored, allowing the reader to examine the relationships between the different characters.

Woolf's examination of the male and female relationships and the associated patriarchy within the novel can be seen best through Mr and Mrs Ramsay. Mrs Ramsay appears to be a woman that lacks her own personal identity, automatically drawn towards patriarchy. This allows Woolf to examine the psychological aspects of the male and female relationships by showing the effects of the Oedipus complex within James Ramsay's jealousy towards his fat...

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...lighthouse for stability. The fact that she never actually made it to the lighthouse is a sign of the lack of stability in her life. Lily Briscoe's painting of Mrs. Ramsay not only acts as motif but also a binding image for the story, it's present throughout the text from beginning to end. Lily discovers that painting is the only thing that stays, when all else changes, and their lives lack stability, she can be moderately content in knowing that the stability of painting is guaranteed.

'To the lighthouse' is held together by the use of motif, the unexpected difficulties that these motifs represent are as Margaret Drabble puts it 'tightly woven'. Woolf's use of stream of consciousness, would unravel at the seams with its constant shifts, without the static image of the lighthouse or the painting, the story would just be a jumbled collection of thought processes.
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