LiteratureTo the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse; Role of Women

4 Mins read

Virginia Woolf is an impressive and distinctive novelist who portrays the internal self of the human thoughts relatively than the happenings within the outer life. Woolf’s To the Lighthouse deals with the battle between the female and masculine values which is common in nature. The women within the fiction characterize each extremes of femininity.

There are two women characters Mrs. Ramsay a stereotypical emotional lady who is properly into the framework of a patriarchal definition of womanhood and Lily Briscoe, the representative of the modern age woman imbibing the rules of modernity.

Both these women have a unique perspective in the direction of life and are concerned in an intense seek for a meaning for their life. 

Read About: To the Lighthouse; Symbolism

Mrs. Ramsay is the protagonist of the fiction and far akin to all different women she is concerned in fulfilling the needs of her husband, rearing her kids, taking part in the function of an ideal host. She is emotional by nature and is completely passive and submissive to her husband.

On the opposite, she can also be impartial to a sure degree in the case of rearing her kids and arranging for a banquet. Her degree of independence ends at this stage and it’s the sole prerogative of Mr. Ramsay in the case of the higher level decision makings. She is a typical Victorian lady who’s contended to be a docile and submissive spouse, a caring and an affectionate mom and an ideal host for her guests.

The Victorian lady accomplishes her mission when she realizes that her existence has rendered a completion to a person relatively than realizing her individual existence. Often Mrs. Ramsay is contended that she is in a greater place because Mr. Ramsay appears as much as her for comfort and motivation and desires constant encouragement from his spouse that he has chosen the correct path in his life.

Though Mrs. Ramsay is confused about her place on this patriarchal society she consoles herself when she turns into acutely aware of the truth that she is in an improved place than her philosopher husband Mr. Ramsay. She is caught between the normal Victorian womanhood and the ideologies of contemporary woman.

Read About: To the Lighthouse; Themes

Charles Tansley, an ardent follower of Mr. Ramsay is criticized by the kids and whereas Mrs. Ramsay admonishes her youngsters for their impolite conduct, she doesn’t fail to ponder on the ideas of defending males and the respect and honor she has earned from the men folks. “Woe betides the girl . . . who did not feel the worth of it, and all that it implied, to the marrow of her bones!”

The transition from a standard function to a contemporary function is normally not easy however Mrs. Ramsay performs the function so elegantly that she is admired and commemorated by her daughters for her power and sweetness. In specific, her eldest daughter Prue watches her mom, with delight, descending from the staircase and feels “what an extraordinary stroke of fortune it was for her (Prue), to have her (Mrs. Ramsay)”.

But Prue dies an untimely demise during childbirth when she tried to comply with her mom as her role model. Though there isn’t any reference to her academic background, the mom of eight kids has been efficiently studying the values of human relationships higher than her extremely educated husband. She has  been submissive, understanding spouse and a caring mom and thereby constantly toiled exhausting to make her married life to not solely survive but in addition to achieve success.

Lily Briscoe, a painter and a household pal of Ramsay, is the androgynous artist who has an ideal mix of female and male qualities and to a sure extent she is the personification of Woolf herself. She is a nonconformist who strives arduous to determine herself as an artist which is predominantly occupied by males.

She doesn’t want to lead a standard married life like Mrs. Ramsay and her try to play the function of a matchmaker for Briscoe proves futile. She is a modern age lady who longs to bridge the hole between the masculine and female attributes by way of skilled and personal life.

Read About: To the Lighthouse; Analyzing the “Time”

Therefore she has chosen to be a painter and show the world that she will be able to lead a standard life with out getting into into the establishment of marriage. Woolf has used Lily Briscoe to characterize the beliefs and ideas that Woolf has tried to ascertain all through her life. The revisit of Lily Briscoe to finish the unfinished portrait of Mrs. Ramsay even after her loss of life reinforces the truth that Briscoe has continued to be a staunch believer of her rules to stay single and to proceed her profession as an artist.

Woolf emphasizes the dominance of the patriarchal society woman in a refined, however sturdy approach by means of the character of Mrs. Ramsay. She is educated and liberated and does enjoy the freedom. But she has some restrictions and the constraint she encounters is basically because of the dominance of the patriarchal society.

Mrs. Ramsay has the ability to regulate the man trivial points however, not in critical points. This creates a niche between the stereotypical woman like Mrs. Ramsay and the modern age woman Lily Briscoe. She doesn’t yield to the pressures of the patriarchal society to turn out to be one other compliant spouse and a caring mom.


The lifetime of Mrs. Ramsay undergoes radical modifications when some misfortune happens within the family. But Lily Briscoe is least affected by the interval of transition and relentlessly come to finish the portrait. Thus Woolf in her novel To the Lighthouse has demonstrated her ideas, concepts and beliefs in regards to the pressures and struggles that women come throughout in life and the methods and means by means of which a woman can set up her place each at home and within the society.

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