When speaking of modernism in the work Virginia Woolf, scholars too readily use her innovations in style and technique as the starting point for critical analysis, focusing largely on the ways in which her prose represents a departure from the conventional novel in both style and content. To simply discuss the extent of her unique style, however, is to overlook the role of tradition in her creation of a new literary identity. In To the Lighthouse, Woolf's invention reveals itself instead as a reinvention, a recasting of the conventional through the use of the traditional. Within the text, this relationship manifests itself in Lily Briscoe's relationship with Mrs. Ramsay and the extent to which the domestic woman influences Lily Briscoe's own reinvention of her feminine identity (Barett 33). But Woolf’s reliance on the traditional as a means of reinvention runs deeper than the prose alone; it extends into the very structure and arrangement of the narrative itself, where Woolf considered To the Lighthouse an elegy to her parents rather than a novel. Such a distinction does more than simply underscore Woolf’s intention in writing To the Lighthouse; the invocation of the classical Greek poetic form demands a reconsideration of the work’s structural and rhetorical influences. As this essay will suggest, a critical analysis of Woolf’s elegiac aims in To the Lighthouse does not merely illuminate its autobiographical nature, but also reveals the extent to which the traditional concept of elegy shapes Woolf’s modernist construction of space-time.
Before examining the effect of the elegiac structure within the text, however, it is necessary to define more specifically the concept...
... middle of paper ...
... last, the renewal of traditional elegiac form in an innovative way, influenced by the past without becoming its imitation.
Aiken, C. (1927). The Novel A Work of Art. Dial, 83, 4.
Boland, E. (2000). To the Lighthouse (pp. ix-xxv). London, England: Vintage Classics.
Ellmann, M. (2000). To the Lighthouse (pp. xvi-xxvi). London, England: Vintage Classics.
Kelley, A. V. (1973). To the Lighthouse. The Novels of Virginia Woolf: Fact and Vision (pp. 114-143). Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.
Woolf, V., & Barrett, M. (1980). Introduction. Virginia Woolf, women and writing (pp. 1-57). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Woolf, V. (1992). To the Lighthouse. London, England: Vintage Classics.
Zwerdling, A. (1986). Virginia Woolf and the real world. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Evolution of the Modern Woman in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse examines the role of women or more specifically, the evolution of the modern woman. The two main female characters in the novel, Mrs Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, both represent different views on life and follow different paths on their search for meaning. Lily Briscoe transcends the traditional female gender roles embodied by Mrs Ramsay; by coming into her own as an independent and modern woman, she symbolises the advent of modernism and rejection of traditional Victorian values.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays Virginia Woolf ]
1478 words (4.2 pages)
- Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is a novel dedicated to human emotion and humanity’s innate yearn for interpersonal connection. Woolf’s novel shows how we humans relate and react to the world around us- how we feel about the events we experience, what we perceive about the people we so desperately want to feel close to, and how raw human connection can help us find purpose in our live. Whether it is Mrs. Ramsay tirelessly working to aid her husband in his war against himself or Mrs. McNab contemplating the lives of the people she cleans after, all the characters in Woolf’s novel lack human closeness and try to find that closeness through interpreting what those around them experience.... [tags: Emotion, Marriage, Love, Virginia Woolf]
1364 words (3.9 pages)
- The opening scene of To The Lighthouse between Mr Ramsay and Mrs Ramsay displays the gender division that flows throughout this passage highlighting Woolf’s own perspective on society and sexuality between genders. Woolf supports the belief in a complete change to society resulting in a non – hierarchical society. Woolf felt for this to happen aside from the practical changes, that a radical redefinition of sexuality was also needed. The novel focuses on sexual issues of the twentieth century central to feminist campaigns, such as marriage being a form of institutionalized slavery .... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
1230 words (3.5 pages)
- She was not inventing; she was only trying to smooth out something she had been given years ago folded up; something she had seen. For in the rough and tumble of daily life, with all those children about, all those visitors, one had constantly a sense of repetition-of one thing falling where another had fallen, and so setting up an echo which chimed in the air and made it full of vibrations. (199) What causes that crumpling. What makes the accumulated images fold up over the years.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
1895 words (5.4 pages)
- Fleeting Connections in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse In Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Ramsay plays the role of a beautiful, dutiful wife and mother. She also is a peacekeeper, who struggles to find unity, even in situations where it seems that none can be found. Through Mrs. Ramsay's attempts to unify conditions, many characters experience an extreme sense of connection with her. Often, like Mrs. Ramsay's successful unifications, these connections are but fleeting ones, lasting only momentarily.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
1590 words (4.5 pages)
- Importance of Brackets in To The Lighthouse [Here Mr. Carmichael, who was reading Virgil, blew out his candle. It was midnight.] [Mr. Ramsay, stumbling along a passage one dark morning, stretched his arms out, but Mrs. Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before, his arms, though stretched out, remained empty.] [Prue Ramsay died that summer in some illness connected with childbirth, which was indeed a tragedy, people said, everything, they said, had promised so well.] [A shell exploded.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
798 words (2.3 pages)
- Analysis of Similes in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse `Thoughts are made of pictures.' Our consciousness may be visualized as a photomontage of simultaneous impressions, mostly visual, according to poet John Ciardi (238). In verbalizing conscious experience, authors tend to use metaphor and simile to create images that, like words, possess both denotation, visual identification, and connotation, an emotional aura (Ciardi 239). In To the Lighthouse, by my count, Virginia Woolf employs over one hundred similes, figures of speech making an explicit comparison between two things essentially unlike, to enliven her description of things, places, and people.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
1756 words (5 pages)
- An Insightful Journey in Woolf’s To The Lighthouse The lighthouse stands in the distance. It signifies a far off place that takes planning and work to reach. Depending on your perspective, the lighthouse may look different. It may appear large or small, short or tall, it may be dark and musty or bright and clear. Perspective is defined by Random House dictionary as "a broad view of events or ideas in their true nature and relationships". Virginia Woolf, in To The Lighthouse, takes an insightful journey into the true nature of relationships through the perspective of many different characters.... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
1185 words (3.4 pages)
- Self-realization in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse A Lighthouse is a structure or tower, which emits light in order to guide people, mainly mariners. Virginia Woolf uses the meaning as a hidden symbol to guide readers to the deep unresolved feelings carried within the novel’s distraught characters. As the novel progresses, the significance of the Lighthouse’s meaning slowly unravels. The reader receives an insightful view into Mrs. and Mr. Ramsay’s complex everyday relationship while they raise their eight children and time passes. Consequently, the reader realizes how important one individual is to the lives of others, or more figuratively how one bright and strong beam of... [tags: Woolf To The Lighthouse Essays]
2133 words (6.1 pages)
- An analysis of To the Lighthouse Argument: Mrs. Ramsey is triumphant over Mr. Ramsey, by her awareness and intuitive feeling of the more important things in life: the value of human relationships. Though she is submissive, with no mention of extensive educational background, she innately possesses the crucial social skills that gain: the cohesion of the family as a whole; the respect and love of her children, and the continued survival of her marriage. Part I: The Window "Had there been an axe handy, or a poker, any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father's breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it...... [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]
404 words (1.2 pages)