To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Reading To the Lighthouse was more than just another literary experience for me. Virginia Woolf wrote in such a way that challenged my mind, spoke to my emotions and in essence she shut me up and made me listen. Listening was not hard seeing that she had much to say and a unique way of saying it. I found a sensitivity in Woolf's work that I appreciated as it is not a style seen in the work of today. I am only afraid that due to its subtlety, it may go unnoticed by some of my generation of readers. It is interesting to see how discreetly Woolf feeds her opinion on bold and blatant issues to her readers; almost convincing them that they are daily accepted occurrences, for example the 'marriage' between Minta and Paul. Her gentle way of making fun of her characters along with her way of casually mentioning events that others may choose to sensationalize, allows the reader to digest the novel without irritation. However, it is not a one-step process, since the reader will find himself occasionally catching himself on a train of thought courtesy of Virginia Woolf, long after the meal was finished. To the Lighthouse was the first novel that I have read in which the author allows the reader to see each character's point of view. I am used to having each character's feelings and opinions expressed through one main character. Reading this, I got unbiased opinions. Had Woolf not gone into the mind of each character, I would never have thought that Mrs. Ramsay was not always liked. Neither would I have seen each person's insecurities. For example, a one-sided book could have easily portrayed Lily Briscoe as a shy, quiet woman concerned only about her art and not quite caring about anything else. This is not true. Lily is a character most people, especially women, can identify with. She has insecurities about the very means by which she uses to express her inner self, which is her art. She has a hard time allowing people to see what she truly holds dear to her soul except for William Bankes. Like many of us, Lily keeps " a feeler on her surroundings lest someone should creep up." It is this classic case of breaking down barriers and exposing one self to the world that Virginia Woolf captures in a way that the reader recognize at first.

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Instead, the reader only knows that little by little Lily becomes a character that they actually have something in common with. Being a romantic, I was deeply touched by the portrayal of the love shared between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Woolf deals with this matter in such a sensitive and delicate manner that it only intensifies every ounce of the emotion. I identify most with this aspect of the novel and reading about it made me gush and feel as giddy as if were the one who was in love. Sentences like " They became part of that unreal but penetrating and exciting universe which is the world seen through the eyes of love.", appealed so much to the poetic side of me, and I felt grateful reading it because I was happy that someone was able to express this feeling in so profound a way. The misconception that the Ramsays have a strained relationship is hard for me to understand with prose such as "he seized her hand and raised it to his lips and kissed it with an intensity that brought the tears to her eyes, and quickly he dropped it". To me, this is an expression of love gone beyond the limit. To many, the highest level of love is when you hold the person and cannot let go. However, with this sentence, Woolf is recognizing and making known that there is a love beyond that, where it surpasses anything tangible and becomes something too great to touch with the flesh and rather, it becomes something to be experienced with the soul. Every time I think about the way this novel has affected me I come up with different answers. There are times when I think that it did nothing but frustrate me. Then, there were the times when I truly felt that Woolf was my best friend listening to how I felt about things and she just translated them into one of the most comforting and lyrical prose I have read so far. It is for this reason that I can only think of parts of this novel as a sweet lullaby. Through Woolf I have learnt a new style of writing and gained insight to issues that I gave passing thoughts to before this, and I am grateful.
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