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In What Sense Might Virginia Woolf's Novel ' To The Lighthouse' Be Understood As A Feminist Text?

2659 words - 11 pages

In what sense might Virginia Woolf's novel ' To The Lighthouse' be understood as a feminist text?When looking at To The Lighthouse we see the conventional usage of feminism's challenged. Woolf uses many different styles and techniques, and although the term feminist is never used within the novel, it clearly is a feminist text. Woolf's work challenges representation and treatment of women; and the social relationship between men and women, this is shown most poignantly within the novel To The Lighthouse. I intend to investigate the usage of feminist writing within this text.Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe are the two main female characters in the novel. Women, Mrs. Ramsay believes are there to care for others, marry people off and harmonize everyone. They are also there (shown within her inner monologue) to protect men, and to nurture their ego. 'She had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour.' (13. To The Lighthouse.)To The Lighthouse is a novel that is fascinated by women, as the perspectives of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily are the most fully developed narratives within the text. Woolf's To The Lighthouse asks the question of the sexuality of women, and questions the women's role within the family. Lily does represent Woolf's 'ideal women' and Mrs. Ramsay in direct contrast is portrayed as the 'angel of the house.' Woolf's essay 'Professions For Women' attacks Victorian institutions, she writes about 'killing the angel of the house', which she successfully manages through Mrs. Ramsay's death in To The Lighthouse. Mrs. Ramsay is a product of the Victorian era, she is described in terms of delicateness of feminity and Woolf, romanticizes her and uses passive language to portray her. Woolf's theory in 'A Room Of One's Own' is significant because it helps to understand her issues with gender and feminist politics set by patriarchies. 'Whether there are sexes in the mind corresponding to the two sexes in the body, and whether they also require to be united in order to get complete satisfaction and happiness…. In each of us two powers reside, one male and female…It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple, one must be women Manly or man womanly. (93. A Room Of One's Own.)Woolf attempts to show these differences through her portrayal of Lily and Mrs. Ramsay, and again through Mr. And Mrs. Ramsay. Woolf believed that patriarchy always tried to silence and repress women and women's experiences, this is why she rejects the series of feminine characteristics set by patriarchy; sweetness, modesty, humility and subservience..., and shows these qualities in direct contrast to Mr. Ramsay, and his masculine rationality that has reason, order and lucidity. In keeping with Woolf's 'Angel Of the House' figure, Mrs. Ramsay is projected more as a symbol as the 'earth mother' than as an individual, as she is never called by...

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