There is a saying that the worth of a man’s life is best measured by the degree to which he has if he has touched the lives of others and not by the quantity of worldly possessions that he has acquired. It is important to keep this in mind when considering Virginia Woolf’s novel, To The Lighthouse. Throughout the novel, it seems as though the characters, mainly Mr. And Mrs. Ramsay, are trying to find worth in their lives. As a first time reader of the novel, it immediately seemed clear to me that the eight children that Mr. And Mrs. Ramsay have bore and raised gives significant worth to their lives; however, they feel that they need more. They both appear to be good and decent people, and yet there is an inner struggle that is apparent in both characters, as well as others, to find a way to leave a lasting mark on this earth after their death.
For Mrs. Ramsay, the quest appears in her charity for other people. Her character is caring and giving. She shows great concern for social inequality and is charitable to those less fortunate than herself. She has a certain aura about her which draws people to her. She is able to talk to most people and get them to talk to her. She is aware of this quality and secretly prides herself on it. In fact, she needs it, and when it does not come to her, she tries to find fault or reason for it. Mrs. Ramsay becomes irritated when Carmichael shrinks away from her and at one point, she admits her awareness of this, and we see her searching for a way to make Carmichael feel closer to her.
He never told her anything. But what more could she have done? There was a sunny room given up to him. The children were good to him. Never...
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...; intellectually, through writing and literature, and compassionately through her focus on human beings, their relationships and their need to be needed. Throughout the novel, the different characters help each other, as insignificantly as it may seem, and we see that each life has it’s place. So, did Virginia Woolf succeed in her quest to leave a lasting mark on mankind after her death? The answer seems simple. Yes. Her readers and followers are living proof.
Works Cited and Consulted
Burt, John. "Irreconcilable Habits of Thought in A Room of One's Own and To the Lighthouse." ELH 49.4 (1982): 889-907.
Fokkema, Douwe W. An Interpretation of To the Lighthouse. Tel Aviv, Israel, 1979.
Ruddick, Lisa. The Seen and the Unseen: Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Cambridge: Harvard, 1977.
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. New York: Oxford, 1999.
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