The spouses Ramsey have Shiva and Parvati-like roles in life, and their goals correspond to these roles. Mr. Ramsey differs in that he separates unconscious goals from conscious goals. Subconsciously, Mr. Ramsey manifests the character of destruction. His role is necessary to the well being of the family; though he seems at times to suck life from others with his bitter pessimism, his role is as important as the role of his wife, the giver and the nurturer. Mr. Ramsey exists in order to balance his wife’s personality. His rage complements her love.
Consciously, Mr. Ramsey aspires to intellectual enlightenment through his philosophizing. His attitude in traveling to the Lighthouse mirrors his attitude towards attaining this goal. Mr. Ramsey has no hope that he will be able to reach either, and almost gives up both before trying, shifting the blame from him to outside forces. The trip to the lighthouse was unattainable because of conditions that do not have to do with neither him nor the goal: the weather conditions were not easily sailable. Intellectual enlightenment will be unattainable because of conditions that do not have to do with either him or the goal, as well. “He would have written better books if he had not married (Woolf 69).” His marriage and children become the scapegoat for this goal not being attained. Mr. Ramsey makes excuses for not becoming intellectually enlightened in the same vain that he makes excuses for not sailing to the Lighthouse.
Mrs. Ramsey is the ideal wife and mother. She uses her love to create and build, not in the physical sense, but more in the sense of relationship, community, and hope building. She is perhaps the most successful of the characters, in that her goals are she feels she has become her goal: one who helps people, brings them tog...
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... Just when she thinks that she cannot make a painting worth painting, she hears of Mr. Ramsey, Cam and James’ landing to the lighthouse. ““He has landed,” she said aloud. “It is finished (208).”” The thoughts of the Lighthouse and the Ramseys at it inspire her suddenly, and she completes the picture, tying everything together and complimenting each piece at the same time, like Mrs. Ramsey had done when she was still alive. “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision (209).” The completion of this painting resulted in Lily’s attaining self-confidence, and the successful portrayal of Mrs. Ramsey
From far away, the lighthouse looks mammoth: a towering structure whose duty is noble and inspires reverence. Similarly daunting are the goals that one sets ten years before the goals can be completed, such as Lily Briscoe’s painting and James’ mending of the relationship with his father. The Lighthouse represents the struggle to attain a goal, and the light it shines the path one must take. The goals accomplished and the Lighthouse up close are both more friendly, pretty, and manageable, as characters in To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf demonstrate.
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