The present unfolds as I trace my way along the thin black lines laid across the page. Woolf writes; I read. We then assemble these fractured signs, these fleeting moments in our conversations to compose a unified whole. A scene passes. My eyes discern a pattern and then resume their marked progression, following a clearly defined line across the blank space of the page, like caravans perpetually marching (Years 3) slowly wheeling like the rays of a searchlight the days, the weeks, the years passed one after another across the sky (Years 4). But these words and the reality they describe and create are uncertain (Years 3). The present slips into the past, caught in a torrent of images, of light and sound that draw me deeper within the rhythm of Woolf's prose. And, despite my intended focus everybody in the crowded street, it seemed, had some end in view (Years 5) I am left undefined, without beginning or end.
[...] To the Lighthouse immerses us in the unceasing and overwhelming complexity of the human experience by revealing the fluid and inter-related moments that define being. The Years divides our experience of reality into scenes, forcing us to acknowledge the process by which we weave these bits and pieces together to create our perception of reality. Both present us with questions, engaging us in conversation with Woolf as we examine the lines that divide and distinguish reality from fiction and expression from experience. [...]
[...] In 1910 the language and form of the text changes, expressing a shift in thought, a breaking free from the oppressive structures that dominated the previous scenes. What was certain and absolute, is suddenly broken, opened to new possibilities as the relationships between these characters and their world shifts. It is as if puzzle were solved, and then broken” (Years 160). Sara, Rose and Maggie enter into conversation, examining the distinction between the past and the present, between reality and fiction as they question the structures that had defined them: They talked, she thought, as if Abercorn Terrace were a scene in a play. [...]
[...] As the world changes, the individual moments and experiences that defined each character are consumed, suspended in silence. We are left with a question: “Will you fade? Will you perish?” (Lighthouse 129). In the final scene, we return with what remains of the Ramsays, searching for an answer, for a pattern by which we can make sense of our own being in this chaotic and fluid world. The final scene unfolds through the perspective of an artist. Lily sits upon the beach as she attempts to sift through the onslaught of sensations she experiences through her artist expressions. [...]
[...] Both Eleanor and Delia ask, continuously, “Where am (Years 25) They describe their lives as scene in a play” acknowledging the space between meaning and the expressions that define them. And, as the years progress, memory and emotion, suppressed desires and fears, slowly build upon one another, creating the lenses through which the story unfolds. Woolf's prose expands as the years pass. Her characters fall into the stream of life, moving further from their social assumptions and expectations as they explore alternate ways of seeing and being in the world. [...]
[...] The scenes and moments that define our experience of To the Lighthouse flow in and out of one another without space or title to distinguish where one ends and another begins. The text is revealed through voices; each character speaks, expressing their narratives through Woolf's prose to create the whole which we perceive. Our eyes follow, overwhelmed, and, without a place to rest or settle, they expand to encompass the multiple voices that resound throughout the novel . In our progression across the page, we create each character and the world of which they are a part. [...]
using our reader.