Character Of Mr. Ramsay In Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

807 words - 3 pages

The Character of Mr. Ramsay in To The Lighthouse

    When reading novels, it is important to understand the aspects of each character to completely get the message that the author is trying to send to the reader.  In the novel, To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf illustrates the character, Mr. Ramsay as a husband and a father of eight.  As a husband, he mentally abuses his wife, Mrs. Ramsay, and as a father, Mr. Ramsay discourages and psychologically abuses his children to an extent that makes his children hate him.  Mr. Ramsay has another side of compassion, and love for his family.  Woolf describes Mr. Ramsay as insensitive, malicious, and brutal toward his family, but he also desires happiness and wants the best for his family.


            Although Mr. Ramsay often scolds and mentally abuses Mrs. Ramsay, all he wants is love and affection from his wife.  For example, when Mrs. Ramsay lies to James about the next day's weather, "There wasn't the slightest chance that we could go to the lighthouse tomorrow" (31).  This comment shows that, if Mr. Ramsay doesn't want to do something, they are not going to do it.  During the same conversation Mr. Ramsay say something that he would later realize he shouldn't of said.  Mr. Ramsay regrets getting upset at his wife for no reason and he is ashamed of the actions that he took.  As a result of hurt that he caused his wife, Mr. Ramsay wants to make her happy again. 


Next, the novel displays Mr. Ramsay's insensitivity towards Mrs. Ramsay when his comments make her "bend her head as if to let the pelt of jagged hail, the drench the dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked" (32).  This illustrates Mr. Ramsay as heartless to other's feelings, it seems like he enjoys tormenting his wife to a point where she is in total mental anguish.  However, Woolf contrasts the heartless Mr. Ramsay with a caring and loving one, "...he could not help noting, the sternness at the heart of her beauty.  It saddened him, and her remoteness pained him" (64).  For this moment, Mr. Ramsay is portrayed as a sympathetic and caring husband.  Mr. Ramsay is "pained" by the way he has treated his wife because he realizes the sorrow and suffering that he has caused her.  Mr. Ramsay has a sensitive and caring side that Woolf seemingly only portrays in his own thought, but he still is very...

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