To The Lighthouse

English 102D

To the Lighthouse

Central symbol – the lighthouse. How does the lighthouse aid in constructing the central tensions and development of the plot? How does the lighthouse aid in understanding the role and dilemma of Mrs. Ramsey?

Many ideas as to what this structure may symbolize have entered my mind, and I would like to ask anyone who would like to respond to clarify if my thoughts are true to the novel or merely construed fluff. The lighthouse may be a symbol for Mrs. Ramsay herself as its beam is always at the home on the island. Its light penetrates the windows long after Mrs. Ramsay's death and the family's flight from their former home. Also, in everyone's memory, the lighthouse is a place of beauty, yet upon returning many years later they find a forbidding place and begin questioning why the trip was made in the first place. Could the lighthouse symbolize the burden left on James and Mr. Ramsay after her death? While she was still with them, a journey to the lighthouse seemed something to be looked forward to, but after her death the trip merely seemed to derive from Mr. Ramsay's sense of duty to his late wife. Could the lighthouse symbolize life itself? Could it symbolize the two realms of consciousness constant in all the characters? One being the illusion of what life is as seen only in the mind and built up by imagination, and the other being the reality of life which can be found only when gazing more closely at what is real. I know this message was long, and I'm sorry if I have wasted anyone's time, but if you have any insights on this subject please respond!

The lighthouse's beam of revolving light as an image to Mrs. Ramsey's character as she revolves around each character and watches over everyone like the light of a lighthouse does.

I read elsewhere that a lighthouse is not usually a destination in itself, but traditionally illuminates the way toward one's destination - provides a safe path. Is Mrs. Ramsey "the lighthouse" within her family?

The Lighthouse itself can't be interpreted only in one way: Throughout the novel it becomes clear that the Lighthouse means sth different to each character.
In Part I certainly the inaccessability of the Lighthouse is stressed: It becomes a inaccessable, illuminating and remote symbol. For James it means a destination that seems close but is impossible to achieve. Spoken more generally, one might speak of the wish go to the lighthouse as the wish for sth that is not that easy to obtain: Lily Briscoe's painting, Paul and Mita's marriage- so it can be interpreted as a lack for attainability.
This meaning changes throughout the book: In Part III James finally reaches the Lighthouse but comes to realize that the L. is not the mist-shrouded memory of his childhood. The Lighthouse becomes a symbol: What James believed it to be in his mystifying memory and what it was when he saw it really. V. Woolf might wish to point out this way that nothing is only one thing- even two contradicting pictures are each true on their own. THis is also reflected in the novel: as Lily observes, if you try to reform a moment into words, it breaks into a hundred, even contradicting notions."

The Lighthouse - Lying across the bay and meaning something different and intimately personal to each character, the lighthouse is at once inaccessible, illuminating, and infinitely interpretable. As the destination from which the novel takes its title, the lighthouse suggests that the destinations that seem surest are most unobtainable. Just as Mr. Ramsay is certain of his wife's love for him and aims to hear her speak words to that end in "The Window," Mrs. Ramsay finds these words impossible to say. These failed attempts to arrive at some sort of solid ground, like Lily's first painting or Mrs. Ramsay's attempt to see Paul and Minta married, result only in more attempts, further excursions rather than rest. The lighthouse stands as a potent symbol of this lack of attainability. James arrives only to realize that it is not at all the mist-shrouded destination of his childhood. Instead, he is made to reconcile two competing and contradictory images of the tower—how it appeared to him when he was a boy and how it appears to him now that he is a man. He decides that both of these images contribute to the essence of the lighthouse—that nothing is ever only one thing—a sentiment that echoes the novel's determination to arrive at truth through varied and contradictory vantage points.
James's reflection on the lighthouse underlines the contradictory psychological and narrative structures of the book. The lighthouse provides James with a chance to consider the subjective nature of his consciousness. He decides that the tower can be two competing images at once: it is, for him, both a relic of his childhood fantasy and the stark, brutally real and somewhat banal structure he now sees before him. Just as Lily concludes that she would need more than fifty pairs of eyes in order to gain a complete picture of Mrs. Ramsay, James realizes that nothing is ever only one thing—the world is far too complex for such reduction and simplification. These metaphors explain Woolf's technique. Only by presenting the narrative as a collection of varied and competing consciousnesses could she hope to capture a true likeness of her characters and their worlds.
In the final pages of the novel, Woolf reveals the key to the reconciliation of competing impressions that allows James to view the lighthouse and Lily to see Mrs. Ramsay in the context of both the past and present. This key is distance, which Lily notes in Chapter IX has "extraordinary power." Lily has had ten years to process her thoughts regarding Mrs. Ramsay, ten years to work her way beyond an influence that, in the opening pages of the novel, overwhelms her with its intensity. When, earlier, Lily sits at Mrs. Ramsay's feet, she is blinded by her love for the woman. Her opinion of Mrs. Ramsay has changed considerably by the end of the novel. She recognizes Mrs. Ramsay's dated ways and somewhat manipulative nature, and her vision of Mrs. Ramsay is now more complete. Likewise, James is better able to see the lighthouse and, more pivotal, his father because of the distance that separates him from his childhood impressions. Mr. Ramsay, as Cam realizes, is not the same man he was ten years ago. Although still domineering, he has become more sensitive, a fact that James, overjoyed with the compliment his father has paid him, might finally begin to see.
Woolf's phrasing of Lily's declaration of "[i]t is finished" lends gravity and power to the moment with its biblical echoes of death and impending rebirth. The moment also parallels James's ability to see the lighthouse and his father anew but holds singular importance for the structure of the novel. Mr. Ramsay, Mrs. Ramsay, and Lily Briscoe make three distinct attempts to harness the chaos that is life and make it meaningful. As a philosopher, Mr. Ramsay fails to progress to the end of human thought, that elusive letter Z that he believes represents the ultimate knowledge of life, while Mrs. Ramsay dies before she sees her children married. Thus, both the intellectual and social attempts to order life fall short. Only Lily's attempt at artistic order succeeds, and it does so with grace and power. Lily has a "vision" that enables her to bring the separate, conflicting objects of her composition into harmony. This synthesizing impulse counters the narrative fragmentation as well as the competing worldviews among the characters. The painting represents a single instant lifted out of the flow of time and made permanent.http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Lighthouse/109017

To The Lighthouse 8.8 of 10 on the basis of 4202 Review.