Essay on To The Lighthouse

Essay on To The Lighthouse

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Pause, reflect, and the reader may see at once the opposing yet relative perceptions made between life, love, marriage and death in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. In this novel, Woolf seems to capture perfectly the very essence of life, while conveying life’s significance as communicated to the reader in light tones of consciousness arranged with the play of visual imagery. That is, each character in the novel plays an intrinsic role in that the individuality of other characters can be seen only through the former’s psyche. Moreover, every aspect of this novel plays a significant role in its creation. For instance; the saturation of the present by the past, the atmospheres conjoining personalities and separating them, and the moments when things come together and fall apart. This paper will explore such aspects of To the Lighthouse while incorporating the notion that the world Woolf creates in this novel is one that combines finite and infinite truth. A created world that recognizes both limitation and isolation and how these themes are interrelated in and throughout the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Conceptually, Woolf combines all of the aforementioned realities of life into the presentation of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, a married couple that seem to stand for both accurate and visionary approaches to the reality of life. It is important, then, to consider that To the Lighthouse is not only representational of life, but that it also catches life. It is thus the goal of this paper to readily show why this is so.

In the novel, the theme of marriage is a fundamental one. The actual meaning of this marriage, however, receives differing clarifications. In a book by Alice van Buren Kelley, for example, an interpretation of the Ramsays’ marriage by Herbert Marder is considered: “Herbert Marder feels that Virginia Woolf ‘viewed marriage from two

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essentially different points of view, describing it, in an intensely critical spirit as a patriarchal institution, but also expressing a visionary ideal of marriage as the ultimate relation’” (Kelley 115). This quotation seems to illustrate both the strife and harmony of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay’s relationship to one another. One could further suggest that the Ramsays’ marriage represent an ideal balance between seemingly conflicted truths. This observation of opposing truths is depicted in both characters. At the beg...


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...riumphs because she intuits eternity; and Mr. Ramsay, though he loftily seeks a philosophical absolute which will solve the problem of ‘subject and object and the nature of reality’, cannot break his bondage to time without the aid of his wife. Together they fulfill each other, and are the creators of life” (Latham 34). They think nothing alike, yet they need each other nonetheless. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay are deeply interdependent. Without one it seems as though the other would not exist, nor would there exist an all

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encompassing journey of transcendence to the lighthouse.

In summation, the substance of To the Lighthouse is provided directly by life, it catches life in a fashion that I have yet to see in any other novel. I enjoyed this book very much, however I recognize reasons for people’s not liking it so much. It is undeniable that To the Lighthouse lacks progressive action that involves moral choices and decisions. The novel must tell a story. Although, who needs a story when an author perfectly captures a concept such as the world of mind time and the world of linear time and their relation to each other? For both are related to an inner and ceaseless reality.

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