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Finding Balance Between Chaos And Order In Woolf's To The Lighthouse

2650 words - 11 pages

Regardless if found in reality, both the present or past, or found in comparable literary works, the constant battle and endless war between order and chaos, emotions and thoughts, follows humanity mercilessly. These opposing concepts also take form in ideas such the thesis and the antitheses- that with every idea or concept, sooner or later an opposing force or contradicting theory will rise and ultimately challenge and change the previous state of society, individual or even in the natural world. The war that rages between order and chaos easily applies to this philosophical notion. Both states, chaos and order, seem to and most likely will continue to inevitably occur and then counter act the other. Although a society or an individual may experience a time of order and an alignment of society which promotes and preforms standards on both an ethical and moral scale, eventually the tides will turn and chaos will crash, spurred on by whatever opposing viewpoint there may stand to the previous one. This belief could mean that the world ultimately functions in chaos, that unless people achieve permanent order, no order truly occurs. However, besides the possibility that perhaps having a balance between order and chaos would actually provide the “true order” desired, it seems that rather then focusing on the society's order or chaos, as so commonly done, it would remain best to look inwards, at the individual. In other words, for people to find the balance of order and chaos, reason and emotion, restraint and passion, they must focus solely on their being and inner workings and develop, in their individual way, a means of maintaining that balance. In Virgina Woolf's acclaimed novel, To the Lighthouse, the characters Lilly Briscoe and Mrs. Ramsay represent the individual who finds a sense of balance and means to uphold, and those who do not and simply morph into the cycle of inevitable chaos that society promotes. Lilly Briscoe, a strong-willed and rather independent painter, acts throughout the novel as the antitheses of Mrs. Ramsay. Where Mrs. Ramsay acts placid and cordial, and conforms to the demands society projects, Lilly acts upon her own desires and will, primarily in regards to the realms of painting and marriage. As the story progresses the reader finds that painting lies at the core of Lillie's self, and she uses it as the means to maintain her inner balance. In the end, Lily accomplishes the balance of order and chaos, by choosing her own desires over the pressures ensued by society, and Mrs. Ramsay fails, adhering to the standards and demands placed on her, and ultimately dying after living a life of demanding servitude.

The pressure to marry and cease her artistic pursuits seems to act as the most significant struggle Lily Briscoe faces throughout the course of the novel. Because, Mrs. Ramsay can't stand for a woman of her acquaintance to remain unwed, she sets Lily up with William Bankes, an older widower and...

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