English 306 (W)
“To The Lighthouse” Virginia Woolf
In the brilliant novel “To the Lighthouse,” Woolf uses many different styles and techniques, and although the term feminist is never used within the novel, to me it is clearly a feminist text. Woolf's work challenges and questions the representation and treatment of women, as well as the social relationship between men and women. To The Lighthouse is a novel that is enchanted 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 woman' and Mrs. Ramsay in direct opposition is portrayed as the 'angel of the house.'
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. The traditional female gender roles of passivity and submission are first reinforced by Mrs. Ramsay's attitude and behavior towards her husband and the guests at her house. Mrs. Ramsay is not a helpless woman but she is not independent in the way that Lily Briscoe is. While she is perfectly capable of being the boss of trivial and "womanly" things such as dinner, the higher level decisions are always made by her husband.
Lily is also very much a product of society, yet she has new ideas for the role of women and produces one answer to the problems of gender power. Lily finds strength within her artistry, rejecting the traditional “mother-woman” image and taking on an identity that is unique in her society. Lily Briscoe represents the feminist figure as she rejects irrationality, chaos and fragmentation, which has come to represent feminity.
Mrs. Ramsay's gender roles are shown in soft response to Mr. Ramsay. Mr. Ramsay emerges as a heroic tyrant and appears to represent the 'typical male'. He is compared...