Masculine and Feminine Perspectives in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

Masculine and Feminine Perspectives in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

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Masculine and Feminine Perspectives in To the Lighthouse

 
    Although subjectivity and objectivity are both constantly at work in today's society, the two concepts have opposite meanings.  We can categorize subjectivity as a quality that dominates the female persona, whereas objectivity is clearly the tool of the male.  Woolf represents these two opposing views in the form of characters.  During the course of a conversation concerning the weather, Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Tansley completely sever logic from emotion and concentrate only on the facts surrounding the matter.  They believe that life can be empirically cut up into millions of facts and truths.  Mrs. Ramsay, on the other hand, believes that empirical data and personal subjectivity should be viewed together and with equal importance.  Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Tansley represent the masculine worldview concerning facts and feelings, and Mrs. Ramsay represents the feminine worldview.  In this novel, Woolf is not arguing to do away with empiricism completely, she simply believes it should be considered along with subjectivity.  Mrs. Ramsay fights against the hopelessness that empiricism brought and seeks to weave her own worldview, hoping to win James. And because Mr. Ramsay boldly asserts that this perception of the world is "the folly of women's minds" (31), places this novel not just on a level of critiquing worldviews, but worldviews as perceived through gender.  This essay will argue that the feminine worldview, presented by Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse, is the most virtuous perception because it seeks a balance ...


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...her people's feelings . . . was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency that . . . there was nothing to be said" (31-32).  Mrs. Ramsay produces the most virtuous worldview because she accepted empiricism and made room for hope and considered other people's feelings.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Gubar, Susan. No Man's Land, Volume 3,: Letters From the Front. London: Yale University Press, 1994.

Latham, Jacqueline, ed. Critics on Virginia Woolf. Florida: University of Miami Press, 1970.

O'Brien Schaefer, Josephine. The Three-fold Nature of Reality in the Novels of Virginia Woolf. The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1965, pp. 111-13, 118-25.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Introduction by D.M. Hoare, Ph.D. London: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1960

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