'To The Lighthouse' is one of the best poetic expressions in Virginia Woolf's literary oeuvre. The novel is deeply layered which opportunes us to explore various interpretations, We have discussed following points in the classroom during face-to-face interaction:
- The Narrative Technique: The Stream of Consciousness. (Scroll down to view the embedded presentation)
- Symbolism in 'To The Lighthouse'. (The presentation is embedded below.)
- Being Woman Writer - The trials and tribulations faced by Virginia Woolf. (The biographical video is embedded in three parts below the presentations.)
- Mythic Patterns in 'To The Lighthouse' by Joseph L. Blotner
- Fluidity versus Muscularity: Lily's Dilemma in Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" by André Viola
- Character study of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe.
- The Complexity of Human Relationship in 'To The Lighthouse'.
- The 'Vision' in 'To The Lighthouse' - Glenn Pedersen. (Scroll down to download this article from JSTOR)
Here are some tasks to be completed by the students as a part of self-learning module: (Students have to give responses in the 'Comment' section below this blog post)
- How can you explain that 'what' Virginia Woolf wanted to say (for example, the complexity of human relationship, the everyday battles that people are at in their relationship with near and dear ones, the struggle of a female artist against the values of middle/upper class society etc) can only be said in the way she has said? (Key: The 'How' of the narrative technique is to be discussed along with features of Stream of Consciousness technique which helps Woolf to put in effective manner what she experienced in abstractions.)
- Do you agree: "The novel is both the tribute and critique of Mrs. Ramsay"? (Key: Take some clues from the painting of Mrs Ramsay drawn by Lily Briscoe and the article by Andre Viola and Glenn Pedersen. Can we read Mrs. R in context of the idea of Ideal Indian Woman - Karyeshu dasi, Karaneshu manthri; Bhojeshu mata, Shayaneshu rambha; Kshamayeshu dharithri, Roopeshu lakshmi; Satkarma yukta, Kuladharma pathni. )
- Considering symbolically, does the Lighthouse stand for Mrs. Ramsay or the narrator (Virginia Woolf herself who is categorically represented by Lily)? (Key: Take help from the presentation on Symbolism to connect Mrs. Caroline Ramsay with Lighthouse. Secondly, the narrator / author cannot fully disappear from the novel and thus the stoicism of Lily to paint and thus prove that she can paint, is symbolically presented in stoicism of Lighthouse. Read 'lighthouse' symbol from presentation slide with this insight to connect lighthouse with the narrator. Give your concluding remarks in the comment below in this blog )
- In the article by Joseph Blotner, two myths are patterned together. Name the myths? How they are zeroed down to the symbols of 'Window' and 'Lighthouse'? How does the male phallic symbol represent feminine Mrs. Ramsay? (Key: The strokes of light-beams. . . )
- What do you understand by the German term 'Künstlerroman'? How can you justify that 'To The Lighthouse' is 'Künstlerroman' novel? (Key: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/325047/Kunstlerroman)
- "... the wages of obedience is death, and the daughter that reproduces mothering to perfection, including child-bearing, already has on her cheeks the pallor of death. One reminded here of various texts by Lucy Irigaray, in which she attacks mothers for being, however unwillingly, accomplices in the patriarchal system of oppression." (Viola). In light of this remark, explain briefly Lily's dilemma in 'To The Lighthouse'.
- Movie Screening: Worksheet (Click here to open)
- You have compared the 'beginning' and the 'ending' of the novel and the film adaptation of the novel directed by Colin Gregg (you can see it again in the embedded video below this). Do you think that the novel is more poignant than the movie? If yes, do you ascribe the fact that the power of words is much greater than that of the screen / visuals?
- How do you interpret the last line of the novel (It was done; it was finished.Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.) with reference to the ending of the film (After the final stroke on the canvass with finishing touch, Lily walks inside the house. As she goes ante-chamber, the light and dark shade makes his face play hide-and-seek. She climbs stairs, puts her brush aside, walks through the dark and light to enter her room. Gently closes the door - speaks: "Closed doors, open windows" - lies on the bed and with some sort of satisfaction utters: "Dearest Briscoe, you are a fool".)
- What does the catalogue named as 'Army and Navy' signify? What does cutting of 'Refrigerator' signify?
- Why did Virginia give such prominence to the tale of the “Fisherman’s Wife”? In particular, why did she weave such a misogynist tale into the fabric of a book which so eloquently challenges received patriarchal notions about the roles and capabilities of women?
- How is India represented in 'To The Lighthouse'? (Read this blog for passing reference)
- Write summaries of these articles:
- Mythic Patterns in To The Lighthouse
- Fluidity vs Masculinity: Lily's Dilemma in Woolf's To The Lighthouse
- Vision in To The Lighthouse by Glenn Pedersen
Watch the film 'To The Lighthouse', directed by Clin Greg, written by Hugh Stoddart, Virginia Woolf (novel).
Watch biographical videos in three parts:
Watch biographical videos in three parts:
The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf, directed by Eric Neal Young, 2002.
Presentations on Symbolism and Stream of Consciousness in 'To The Lighthouse'.
Stream of Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse' from Dilip Barad
Articles for further reading:
Mythic Patterns in to the Lighthouse. Author(s): Joseph L. BlotnerSource: PMLA, Vol. 71, No. 4 (Sep., 1956), pp. 547-562Published by: Modern Language AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/460631.
Fluidity versus Muscularity: Lily's Dilemma in Woolf's "To the Lighthouse". Author(s): André ViolaSource: Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter, 2000-2001), pp. 271-289Published by: Indiana University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3831911
Vision in to the Lighthouse. Author(s): Glenn PedersenSource: PMLA, Vol. 73, No. 5, Part 1 (Dec., 1958), pp. 585-600Published by: Modern Language AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/460303
Color in To the Lighthouse. Author(s): Jack F. StewartSource: Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Winter, 1985), pp. 438-458Published by: Hofstra UniversityStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/441465
Language, Subject, Self: Reading the Style of "To the Lighthouse". Author(s): Rebecca SaundersSource: NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 192-213Published by: Duke University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1345687
"These Emotions of the Body": Intercorporeal Narrative in To the Lighthouse. Author(s): Laura DoyleSource: Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 42-71Published by: Hofstra UniversityStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/441550
Articles for further reading: