Lily’s Reflections in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse Essay

Lily’s Reflections in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse Essay

Length: 1359 words (3.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Lily’s Reflections in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse


Embodying the spirit of the female artist, Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse examines critical issues pertaining to her role in Virginia Woolf’s novel. In Part Three of the novel, Mrs. Ramsay’s legacy plays an especially important role in Lily’s thinking processes. Flowing experimentally like the sea that day, Lily’s thoughts encompass the novel’s themes of the passage of time, the role of the woman, and the role of the artist.

Though time can break down physical matter, its prodding cannot disperse vivid memories. In the beginning of Part Three, Lily feels that Mrs. Ramsay’s death signals the deadening of emotions over time, for she can feel “nothing, nothing – nothing that she [can] express at all” (125). Lily feels that without Mrs. Ramsay’s art of bringing people together, everything becomes “aimless”, “chaotic” and “unreal” (126). Lily echoes Mr. Ramsay’s sentiments of having “perished” and wishes Mrs. Ramsay were in charge of the household again (126). Although Lily is a friend of the Ramsays, she is deeply affected by the unravelling of the Ramsay’s family life and remarks, “The empty places. Such were some of the parts, but how bring them together?” (126). Lily is able to solve this dilemma at the end of the story; however, for the moment, she can only imagine Mrs. Ramsay saying “life stand still here,” for this is the older woman’s way of turning a moment into something permanent (138). Later in her mind’s eye, Lily sees Mrs. Ramsay through William’s eyes and thinks “beauty had this penalty – it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life – froze it. One forgot the little agitations; the flush, the pallor, some queer distortion, some light or s...


... middle of paper ...


...izes it on the canvas. Lily is no longer a passive woman confused about her artistic abilities.

Time’s passage is inevitable, but Lily learns that she can match wits with time by using her artistic talents. Mrs. Ramsay had shown Lily that time can be stopped with beauty, but Lily opts for a more realistic capture of time with artwork that transcends all ages. As a female artist, Lily dashes Mrs. Ramsay’s hopes as well as overcomes the societal expectations for her to become married. Not only does Lily redefines what it means to be a woman, she also renews the image of the artist. Intertwining her reflections on time, womanhood, and artistry, Lily emerges as a more mature person in the end of Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse.

Work Cited

Woolf, Virginia, To the Lighthouse. Edited by Susan Dick. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers 1992.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Comparing Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Kawabata's Snow Country

- Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Kawabata's Snow Country       Virginia Woolf's claim that plot is banished in modern fiction is a misleading tenet of Modernism. The plot is not eliminated so much as mapped out onto a more local level, most obviously with the epic structural comparison in Ulysses. In To the Lighthouse, Woolf's strategy of indirect discourse borrows much from Impressionism in its exploration of the ways painting can freeze a moment and make it timeless. In Kawabata's Snow Country, the story of Yoko and her family and its relationship to the rest of the novel corresponds with an even more modern medium, film, and its superimposition of contradictory image....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Strong Essays
1029 words (2.9 pages)

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]

Strong Essays
2170 words (6.2 pages)

Evolution of the Modern Woman in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse Essay

- 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 ]

Strong Essays
1478 words (4.2 pages)

Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse Essay

-       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]

Strong Essays
1895 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on Lily’s Artifice and Mr. Ramsey's Work in To the Lighthouse

- A Comparison of Lily’s Artifice and Mr. Ramsey's Work in To the Lighthouse             In Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse,  Mr. Ramsey’s lone philosophical work is contrasted against Lily’s encompassing paintings.  Both Lily’s and Mr. Ramsey’s professions require sacrifices;  Lily gives up the ideal marital life whereas Mr. Ramsey has his wife forfeit her happiness to restore his.  Through his work,  Mr. Ramsey is able to build himself up and look as though he is a strong male figure.  Lily also finds strength within her artistry,  rejecting the traditional “mother-woman” image and taking on an identity that is unique in her society....   [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays]

Strong Essays
2862 words (8.2 pages)

Essay on Self-realization in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse

- 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]

Strong Essays
2133 words (6.1 pages)

Essay about An Insightful Journey in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

- 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]

Strong Essays
1185 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Analysis of Similes in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

- 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]

Strong Essays
1756 words (5 pages)

Essay on Fleeting Connections in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

- 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]

Strong Essays
1590 words (4.5 pages)

Narrative Theory in Virgina Woolf's To the Lighthouse Essay

- Beginning, Plot, Sequence, Closure: Teaching To the Lighthouse Narrative theory is extremely useful in teaching modernist fiction; its revival in the beginning of the twentieth century may be a direct response to the practices of modernist fiction. One of the most important components of narrative theory is what I call narrative dynamics, or the related issues of presentation of the story from the choice of beginning point, through the arrangement of linear and nonlinear sequences of events, to the function of the ending....   [tags: To the Lighthouse Essays]

Strong Essays
1930 words (5.5 pages)