Virginia Woolf 's The Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay Essay

Virginia Woolf 's The Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay Essay

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In Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay, a professor, philosopher, and father to eight children, is the husband to a beautiful and very admired woman, Mrs. Ramsay. He uses her as his support against his crippling doubt and constantly needs her to coddle him. However, he finds her compassion towards others annoying and cannot fully respect her because of her gender. With Mrs. Ramsay’s presence, his ego grows, and while she seems to be helping Mr. Ramsay, instead she is normalizing his outbursts of harshness and insecurities by praising him. And because she rarely directly goes against him, he paradoxically cannot respect her as a wife but depends on her too much to function normally. After Mrs. Ramsay passes away, Mr. Ramsay is forced to not rely on his wife, or any woman, to support him. He depends on her support, but because of this need, he cannot respect her as a person.
Woolf defines the relationship between the husband and wife when Mrs. Ramsay says, “she did not like, even for a second, to feel finer than her husband” (39). She admits that the marriage was unbalanced in terms of equalness. However, Mrs. Ramsay not only accepts this, she embraces it. She elevates Mr. Ramsay to a higher standard than her, even though but doing this he never learns to respect her as a wife. Only when “[he comes] to her like that, openly, so that anyone could see, that discomposed her; for then people said he depended on her, when they must know that of the two he was infinitely the more important, and what she gave the world, in comparison with what he gave, negligible.” (39) Because she treats his reactions as a norm in a marriage, Mr. Ramsay is not ashamed of showing his need for her to console him. To him, this is normal. Mrs. Rams...


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...re discussing their older son, Andrew’s academic career, “they disagreed always about this, but it did not matter. She liked him to believe in scholarships, and he liked her to be proud of Andrew whatever he did.” (67) Woolf forms their relationship like a balancing act. “It did not matter” that “they disagreed always about this” because both Mr. Ramsay and Mrs. Ramsay believed it was all right to have varying opinions and accept this as the norm. It’s important to note however that neither will compromise on them. Relating back to their earlier fight, Mr. Ramsay cannot understand why his wife gives his children hope and indulges in their wants. While he doesn’t force her to agree with him, he still doesn’t respect her choices. This shows that while they love each other and accept their own beliefs, their relationship rests on a balance that is not generally healthy.

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