Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Characters Hidden Values and Needs in To The Lighthouse

The Characters Hidden Values and Needs in To The Lighthouse

Woolf’s chosen role as an author is to uncover the hidden values and needs of her characters’ psychologies, and by extension of this, those of her readers — each frequent realization of the character’s is a real and vividly personal epiphany, the like of which ‘real-life’ persons do not have such a feel for on a day-to-day basis; the characters are in a very real sense perhaps too self-aware to be considered ‘real’. (Tansley and Lily at the dinner table each understand their situations perfectly.) The underlying message Woolf seems to be seeking to present is that this self-knowledge is not necessarily inherently of any worth — Tansley, for instance, is unable to control his desire to subjugate others in his own mind to prop up his own insecure self-esteem; his realization of this fact is not an empowerment to alter the fact. Lily feels restrained in a similar fashion; years after their utterance, Tansley’s words (p94) “women can’t write, women can’t paint”, though cushioned with the knowledge that “clearly it was not true to him but for some reason helpful” (also p94), still cannot be completely discounted from her mind.

Lily’s struggle to marshall her memories into a cohesive and enduring monument of canvas is a metaphor for the intensity of human experience; the significance being that ultimately it does not matter — for that intensity will not be retained even then, no matter the struggle; once captured the reality of the situation fades, and it is time to ‘move on’. Her efforts are symbolic of the inability for the power of memories and emotions to be lastingly captured — so strong is this urge that her desire to imprint a meaning upon events perpetuate…

… middle of paper …

…have been more verbose and less nebulous in form (“in MS … more explanation is given” p233, “in MS, Tansley’s atheism is more emphasized and contrasted with Lily’s belief” p227 — and there are records of many other editing outs or ‘smoothing’ revision.) It is not difficult to imagine that Woolf would have been exceptionally gratified by a comment which she made about another author in a critical essay: that a work offered (p248) “a complete presentation of life … as always [he] creates carelessly, without a word of comment, as if the parts grew together without his willing it, and broke into ruin again without his caring.” Woolf’s version is more forced; but perhaps this is what is necessary for a work of such questing magnitude. Seeming spontaneity requires patience.

Works Cited

Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse, Penguin Twentieth Century Classics, 1992

Comparing Beggars and The Sailor’s Mother

Analysis of Beggars and The Sailor’s Mother

As is obvious, the stories contained in the Wordsworthian poems “Beggars” and “The Sailor’s Mother”, despite being contemporaneously individual and distinct, are intrinsically linked. The underlying message which the notable author seems to be trying to communicate is that the poor and afflicted are possessed of a greater nobility of spirit than may generally be accepted in society. In each instance, as in others, Wordsworth seeks out the quiet dignity of such individuals, uncovering and emphasising positive aspects of their character and lives. Even when he allows negativity to creep into his tone, it becomes an almost paternal remonstration (“yet a boon I gave here, for the creature / Was beautiful to see — a weed of glorious feature.”) In his encounter with her children, despite their evident lies, the narrator is neither judgmental nor harsh with them for this; he goes on to describe them as “joyous Vagrants”, displaying that love of the affable rogue common to all genial ‘men of the world’ — even going so far as to wish supernal gifts upon them (“Wings let them have.”)

The poems both have in common the use of pathetic fallacy very early in each poem: the weather is “raw”, “wet” and “in winter time” for a melancholy tale, and casts forward “summer’s … heat” for a far more cheery and positive encounter. This not only immediately provides a recurrent frame of reference for anyone familiar with some of Wordsworth’s other poems, but is a statement of the author’s intentions for the rest of the narrative. In both instances nature and weather references repetitively enter and sustain the poem’s form and mood: “a crimson butterfly”, “yellow flowers the gayest of the land”, “…

… middle of paper …

…ence of style also: the fact that exactly one half of the verses of “The Sailor’s Mother” are a chronicle of her son’s life-story give Wordsworth only odd lines of those verses in which to inform us of the mother’s continuing life story — a task which he fulfils admirably. Though the phrase “[she] begged an alms” is used in both poems, there is a humbler nature inherent to the sailor’s mother than the “haughty” Amazonian — she is more obviously pious and truly in need, no “weed” is she, and says “God help me for my little wit!” in self-deprecation. There is something as charming as the roguish nature of the beggar boys in the way she carries this bird with her; a feeling as strong, though Wordworth induces it through differing methods. This is the power of his poetry: he makes us feel the lives of others; he makes us feel that life has something to offer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.