Self-realization in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse
A Lighthouse is a structure or tower, which emits light in order to guide people, mainly mariners. Virginia Woolf uses the meaning as a hidden symbol to guide readers to the deep unresolved feelings carried within the novel’s distraught characters. As the novel progresses, the significance of the Lighthouse’s meaning slowly unravels. The reader receives an insightful view into Mrs. and Mr. Ramsay’s complex everyday relationship while they raise their eight children and time passes. Consequently, the reader realizes how important one individual is to the lives of others, or more figuratively how one bright and strong beam of light can guide a fleet to harbor.
At the beginning of the novel, the path lies on Mrs. Ramsay and her children wanting to go to the Lighthouse. They find it very exciting and are looking forward to the event. However, Mr. Ramsay believes the weather will not allow them to go tomorrow nor the next day. This carries a negative effect on Mr. Ramsay’s character though the rest of the story and these words reflect their consequences, “…it won’t be fine” (p.4). In reference to their son, James, Mrs. Ramsay believes, “…he will remember that all his life”(p.62). This foreshadows what is to come later in the novel, as the children never do forget, and hold a grudge against their father for his past actions. Likewise, Mr. Ramsay does not forget stopping them from going to the Lighthouse, as this is what is keeping his conscience from being free.
With each turning of the page, the author invites the reader to open the window into the Ramsay’s intricate lives and relate it to the meaning of the novel as a whole. Virginia Woolf uses her magnificent appeal for meaningful imagery by calling the first part of the novel, “The Window.” It is here that light is shed on the Ramsay’s ironic relationship and how they impact the people around them. The Ramsay’s marriage, similar to many frustrating marriages, involves the partners not fully revealing how they truly feel about one another. This can be taken in both the positive and negative contexts.
In the positive light, the “more than words” notion holds true as the Ramsay’s, through their actions, demonstrate their feelings towards one another. It is relevant that they both do love each other by the little things they do. One example of this is that they give in to each other’s wants because they feel guilty by the wrongful things they do to one another. Mrs. Ramsay, as difficult as it is for her, gives in to her husband’s desires in order to satisfy him by telling him he was right that the weather would indeed stop them from going to the Lighthouse. In doing this Mr. Ramsay takes it as a sign of her love without literally speaking the words he so desperately wants to hear, “She had not said it: yet he knew” (p.124).
Despite how depressing and frustrating the...