Importance of Brackets in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse Essay

Importance of Brackets in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse Essay

Length: 798 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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. Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsay, whose death, mercifully, was instantaneous.] [Mr. Carmichael brought out a volume of poems that spring, which had an unexpected success. The war, people said, had revived their interest in poetry.]

 

The text from To The Lighthouse, quoted above, is the sum total of all bracketed asides that appear in the novel's second section, "Time Passes." The compelling question is, why were brackets chosen to emphasize this particular information, and how do the bracketed sections fit in with the rest of the section?

 

Obviously, one purpose of the brackets is to convey personal information about the family in the midst of a narrative dedicated to the empty summer house. Death of a family member occurs in three out of the five sets. This is an effective plot device to fast-forward time and to age the surviving characters. But Woolf's text is not heavily burdened with plot devices, generally. Her prose is whittled to its bare essence. So the brackets must mean more than self-conscious literary trickery.

 

The first and fifth bracket sets are like bookends, both about Mr. Carmichael. In the first, the information about him blo...


... middle of paper ...


...e powerful when read in the midst of the rest of the text, the story of a dying family, a deteriorating house, a falling away of the light from the lighthouse. They also remind the reader that life and death exist beyond places of sentimental houses. The brackets themselves add an emphasis beyond what is possible with a parentheses. Are they as strong as a voice-over would be in a movie? I don't think so. Rather, I imagine them as dialogue, spoken in the voices of children, neighbors, and documents, background noise that add to the overall effect but are only a tiny portion of the text that surrounds them.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

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

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

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 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....   [tags: Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Essays]

Better Essays
2170 words (6.2 pages)

Virginia Woolf 's A Body Of Literature Essay

- One of the most brilliant and influential authors of her time, Virginia Woolf produced a body of literature that effected deep and long lasting impacts on the world around her. Woolf experienced a lifetime of internal conflict and circumstances that were out of her control that eventually drove her to suicide in 1941. Plagued with a history of mental illness and influenced by her nonconformity, her writings have created new outlooks to be explored on topics such as modernism, feminism, androgyny in literature, as well as countless others....   [tags: Feminism, Sociology, Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway]

Better Essays
1277 words (3.6 pages)

Feminism And The Lighthouse By Virginia Woolf Essay

- One of the most talked about issues in today 's society is the importance of understanding feminism and debunking gender roles. These topics, which have changed and revolutionized tremendously since 1927, play a large role in Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Woolf explores forced gender conventions and expectations, shown through the characters of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, that lead to harmful stereotypes and internalized misogyny and how they effect relationship dynamics. One of the most vital characters in Woolf’s To The Lighthouse is a walking stereotype....   [tags: Gender role, Gender, Woman, Transgender]

Better Essays
1404 words (4 pages)

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf Essay

- To The Lighthouse published in 1927, by Virginia Woolf. Set directly before and after World War I, the story follows the lives of a small group of people, (specifically Mr. Ramsay, Mrs. Ramsay, and Lily Briscoe) as they navigate through their daily lives each facing and striving to overcome their individual conflicts while in the Isle of Skye, of the Hebrides (a group of islands west of Scotland) on vacation. But before I go more in depth regarding this group of people and their struggles, I will first provide some context (plus my presentation wasn’t long enough)....   [tags: brief biography, struggles]

Better Essays
667 words (1.9 pages)

A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf Essay

- Virginia Woolf, a founder of Modernism, is one of the most important woman writers. Her essays and novels provide an insight into her life experiences and those of women of the 20th century. Her most famous works include Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando: A Biography (1928), The Waves (1931), and A Room of One's Own (1929) (Roseman 11). A Room of One's Own is an based on Woolf's lectures at a women's college at Cambridge University in 1928. Woolf bases her thoughts on "the question of women and fiction"....   [tags: Virginia Woolf Essays]

Better Essays
2178 words (6.2 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]

Better Essays
1864 words (5.3 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Virginia Woolf 's ' The Lighthouse '

- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is a story that centers around the the value of memory to self. The story does this by centering around the characters that Woolf writes about, and their thoughts pertaining to their memories of one another. Woolf’s writing in To the Lighthouse is rich in her characters, Mrs. and Mr. Ramsay, their kids, and their friends’ thoughts and feelings towards everything they are going through, and more importantly, their thoughts and memories of one another. The reader learns about the characters’ through the complex thoughts Woolf’s characters’ have....   [tags: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll]

Better Essays
877 words (2.5 pages)

A Woman Breaking out of Society and it’s Norms: Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

- In Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse”, the struggle to secure and proclaim female freedom is constantly challenged by social normalcy. This clash between what the traditional female ideologies should be and those who challenge them, can be seen best in the character of Lily Brisco. She represents the rosy picture of a woman that ends up challenging social norms throughout the novel to effectively achieve a sense of freedom and individuality by the end. Woolf through out the novel shows Lily’s break from conventional female in multiply ways, from a comparison between her and Mrs.Ramsey, Lily’s own stream of consciousness, as well as her own painting....   [tags: Traditional Ideologies, Book Review]

Better Essays
902 words (2.6 pages)

Comparing Albert Camus' The Stranger and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

- Man's Place in Society and Nature in Albert Camus' The Stranger and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse A general premise underlying the art of writing is that "language shapes and is shaped by the surrounding society" (McCarthy 41). Authors of an age attempt to effect a message through their writing, and inevitably this telegram to society reflects the temperament of the writer in reaction to his environment and historical context . In this light, Albert Camus' The Stranger (1942) and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927) are products of two separate cultures in an overlapping time period; Camus' sparse minimalistic prose and Woolf's lyrical, indulgent discourse represent two different...   [tags: compare and contrast essay examples]

Better Essays
5428 words (15.5 pages)

Essay about Virginia Woolf

- Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen, in 1882. She suffered immensely as a child from a series of emotional shocks (these are included in the biography of Virginia Woolf). However, she overcame these incredible personal damages and became a major British novelist, essayist and critic. Woolf also belonged to an elite group that included Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. Woolf pioneered in incorporating feminism in her writings. “Virginia Woolf’s journalistic and polemical writings show that she made a significant contribution to the development of feminist thought” (Dalsimer)....   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]

Better Essays
1886 words (5.4 pages)