Parallels To The Author In To The Lighthouse, By Virginina Woolf

888 words - 4 pages

Virginia Woolf's 'To the Lighthouse' is a fine example of modernist literature, like her fellow modernist writers James Joyce and D.H Lawrence. This novel in particular is of the most autobiographical. The similarities between the story and Woolf's own life are not accidental. The lighthouse, situations and deaths within the novel are all parallel to Woolf's childhood, she wrote in her diary 'I used to think of [father] & mother daily; but writing The Lighthouse, laid them in my mind ….(I believe this to be true – that I was obsessed by them both, unheathily; & writing of them was a necessary act). Woolf, Diary, 28 November 1928) Woolf like many other modernist writers uses stream of consciousness, this novel in particular features very little dialogue, preferring one thought, memory or idea to trigger another, providing an honest if not reliable account of the characters lives. There novels motifs are paired with many of the novels images. The novel features two main motifs that Woolf appears to be interested in examining, firstly we notice the relationships' between men and women and the other appears to be Woolf's use of parenthesis. The novels images only become apparent once these motifs have been explored, allowing the reader to examine the relationships between the different characters.
Woolf's examination of the male and female relationships and the associated patriarchy within the novel can be seen best through Mr and Mrs Ramsay. Mrs Ramsay appears to be a woman that lacks her own personal identity, automatically drawn towards patriarchy. This allows Woolf to examine the psychological aspects of the male and female relationships by showing the effects of the Oedipus complex within James Ramsay's jealousy towards his father when he appears to notice that his mothers attention is drawn away from him towards his father. As difficult the relationship between James and his father may appear it is only used to show drawn to Mr Ramsay his mother is. As much as Mrs Ramsay needs the idea at least of patriarchism. Mr Ramsay however relies on Mrs Ramsay not just for the dutiful meaningless household tasks and mothering of his children, but also as a matriarchal figure, someone to reassure him, this is clearly seen in the line 'James felt all her strength flaring up to be drunk and quenched by the beak of brass, the arid scimitar of the male, which smote mercilessly, again and again, demanding sympathy.'(43) This idea of feamle understanding is heavily placed upon women within the novel, the only example of feminism appears to come from Lily Briscoe however is another character that finds herself troubled and...

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