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Symbolism, Anti Patriarchal Chauvinism, And The Emotionalism Style Of To The Lighthouse

1290 words - 6 pages

In the novel, To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf successfully creates a unique form of writing through her experimentation with language that allowed her to break from the conventional writing style of her era to land into a radical modern style of literature. Her experimentation with writing came at a time where no women had a feminine voice in literature. Although, her new form of writing veered into a dimension unknown to the conventional style of writing, the novel was still able to capture the character’s fleeting internal thoughts, reactions, and struggles. Thus, Woolf’s use of techniques such as symbolism, structure organization, narrative voice and the unusual time treatment allowed her novel to express precisely the women condition and to plead the feminist enigma.
Symbols constitutes an important sector of To The Lighthouse that allowed Woolf to convey impressions and thoughts where language failed to express. Woolf uses private symbolism to convey the inner consciousness of her characters in order to reveal their emotive life and to immerse her readers in the character’s mind. One of the most significant symbols in the novel is the lighthouse. It appears in the beginning as a dream jaunt to James, however, his view changes towards the end of the novel when he realises that the lighthouse was only a desirable object for him. It is not a matter of serendipity that the death of Mrs. Ramsay and the overcoming of her influence on James appears right before the conflict between him and his father is resolved and their relationship is bettered. Since, subtly throughout the novel, she yearns for her own country as a metaphor for her freedom of patriarchy “some moon country, uninhabited of men.” (11). On the other hand, Mrs. Ramsay connects herself with this physical external object as she sees in it a sense of stability and permanence. Also, she gets attached to the sea and loses her own self and fixity to become one body with it. The sound of the waves make rhythmical movements that soothes Mrs. Ramsay emotion and thought. To Mr. Ramsay, however, the sea represents the darkness and the waves are the human ignorance that eats away the knowledge and truth “It was his fate, his peculiarity, whether he wished it or not, to come out thus on a spit of land which the sea is slowly eating away” (37). Nonetheless, Lily’s painting constitutes one of the signifiers of gender convention in the novel as she is criticized by Charles Tansley “Women can't paint, women can't write…” (41). Hence, Woolf merging of the facts and the imagination made it impossible to separate the characters from the external objects.
The fragmented structure of the novel is a prominent feature that distinguishes this masterpiece from others of that era. The second part ‘Time Passes’ appears to disrupt the linearity of the novel separating the first part and the third one. However, the second part is important since it operates as a bridge between the two parts with a period of...

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