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Post impressionism in To the Lighthouse

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  1. Introduction
  2. Lily Briscoe's and the other characters
  3. Mr. Ramsay's dissatisfaction with his work life
  4. Mr. Ramsay's quest for physical and factual truth
  5. The representation of beauty
  6. Her attack on the idea of portraying truth in a novel
  7. The end of Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

Very little endures in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse; by the third book most of the characters have died tragic and largely overlooked deaths, or they have disappeared almost without mention. Only two characters, the neurotic philosopher Mr. Ramsay and the lone artist Lily Briscoe are central to the entire book. They are also both set apart from the other characters in another way; they are both disconnected from other people by their work. Their work is so deeply a part of them that they take on the characteristics of and become representative of their representative callings. Their interactions represent not only Virginia Woolf's views about the nature of art and truth, but also her feelings about the work itself.

[...] Distance has extraordinary power? (Woolf Lighthouse 188); because of the distance between her in the boat and the summer house Cam is able to say ?They don't feel a thing there? (Woolf Lighthouse 182), feeling that the more distant something is the more peaceful it becomes because it is physically more indistinct. Lily uses the same method of distance in her painting; and out one went, further and further, until at last one seemed to be on a narrow plank, perfectly alone, over the sea. [...]


[...] Not only does this scar James enough that he remembers that moment ten years later, but then Mr. Ramsay coerces James and Cam to come with him to the lighthouse against their wills (Woolf Lighthouse 184). He forced James to see the actual physical lighthouse, no longer mystified, making him see that it was only ?white-washed rocks; the tower, stark and straight; he could see the that it was barred black and white; he could see windows in it; he could even see washing spread on the rocks to (Woolf Lighthouse 186). [...]


[...] Ramsay drags James unwillingly to the lighthouse it looses its sense he now sees only bare physicality. The closer one is to something, in space, time, or emotion, the more one sees physical aspects, but with more distance the physical details disappear and the essences are seen. With greater distance and indistinctness representing the essence of something and lesser distance representing physical aspects, the lighthouse, eye opening and shutting? (Woolf Lighthouse 186), to young James, represents the essence of wonder he wants to discover, an essence which his father denies him so harshly that he remembers bitterly ten years later. [...]

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