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IlanaSimons
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Part 3: The Lighthouse

We go from looking out the window in part one to arrival at the dreamed-of lighthouse in part three. Can you describe the structure of this book? What is discovered and what remains lost?



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KristyR
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse

I have to admit, I remained lost for most of this book! I enjoyed part 2, and that small section has made me want to read more of Virginia Woolf's writings. I had a hard time with parts 1 and 3. The relationships between the characters didn't seem natural to me. The women and men thought and felt all these different things but could never say them out loud, so instead they acted in passive-aggressive ways. At times I felt like telling them - just tell them what you want/need or get over it! Not very compassionate I know, but there it is.
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure


KristyR wrote:
I have to admit, I remained lost for most of this book! I enjoyed part 2, and that small section has made me want to read more of Virginia Woolf's writings. I had a hard time with parts 1 and 3. The relationships between the characters didn't seem natural to me. The women and men thought and felt all these different things but could never say them out loud, so instead they acted in passive-aggressive ways. At times I felt like telling them - just tell them what you want/need or get over it! Not very compassionate I know, but there it is.


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.
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Re: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE allusions link

[ Edited ]
For those who want to explore more in depth some of the literary allusions in To The Lighthouse, this link should be interesting. After the link takes you to the web page scroll down and click on Allusions in To The LIghthouse.




http://www.webenglishteacher.com/woolf.html

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 04-12-200710:23 AM

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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

[ Edited ]
Good observations. Woolf's characters have such a hard time expressing thoughts and feelings to each other.
The retentiveness gives a good sense of what Woolf felt as a woman raised in a Victorian household...with her own vision of modern possibilities in expression.
Her characters are often Victorian about privacy and silence--we want to scream at them to speak their minds.
Once her mother and father had died (when Woolf was only 22), she and her siblings moved to the Bloomsbury section of London, to set up a household with a different feeling. They threw out the heavy Victorian drapery and made the place light--painted it themselves. They wanted to build a world where more was said and expressed. Of course it is hard to shed those old styles Woolf carried with her.



CallMeLeo wrote:

KristyR wrote:
I have to admit, I remained lost for most of this book! I enjoyed part 2, and that small section has made me want to read more of Virginia Woolf's writings. I had a hard time with parts 1 and 3. The relationships between the characters didn't seem natural to me. The women and men thought and felt all these different things but could never say them out loud, so instead they acted in passive-aggressive ways. At times I felt like telling them - just tell them what you want/need or get over it! Not very compassionate I know, but there it is.


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-12-200712:59 PM




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Re: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE allusions link



CallMeLeo wrote:
For those who want to explore more in depth some of the literary allusions in To The Lighthouse, this link should be interesting. After the link takes you to the web page scroll down and click on Allusions in To The LIghthouse.




http://www.webenglishteacher.com/woolf.html

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 04-12-200710:23 AM




Thanks for that link, it was interesting. I know I just read part of Cowper's poem in another book recently, I just can't remember which one. I also really liked Shelley's Invitation. Has anyone else read Scott's The Antiquary? I was very intrigued by the chapter they provided, I'll try to find it on B&N. I've read The Fisherman and His Wife before, it teaches a great lesson about greed and the humble nature of God.
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Re: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE allusions link



KristyR wrote:


CallMeLeo wrote:
For those who want to explore more in depth some of the literary allusions in To The Lighthouse, this link should be interesting. After the link takes you to the web page scroll down and click on Allusions in To The LIghthouse.




http://www.webenglishteacher.com/woolf.html

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 04-12-200710:23 AM




Thanks for that link, it was interesting. I know I just read part of Cowper's poem in another book recently, I just can't remember which one. I also really liked Shelley's Invitation. Has anyone else read Scott's The Antiquary? I was very intrigued by the chapter they provided, I'll try to find it on B&N. I've read The Fisherman and His Wife before, it teaches a great lesson about greed and the humble nature of God.


I found The Antiquary by Walter Scott on B&N. It's a bit pricey, $15 and up for a paperback. Also it is quite thick, anywhere from 450 to 670 pages depending on the edition. I wish B&N would list the actual book size, I prefer the bigger paperbacks. I hate when I end up getting one of those mass market ones with the teeny tiny writing! Any way, it's on my wish list, so when they post all the books discussions for May, I'll add it to my order. I have to find out what that old lady knew!
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

I'm glad you addressed the tension being broken in Part Three. After the ethereal fluidity of a Time Passes, the story has clearly metamorphosed into the final phase of the novel. I feel a sense of resignation. Mrs. Ramsay is gone, the "astonishingly beautiful" light of the family, the force that kept the family unit so tightly woven has left the scene. It's a tough void to fill isn't it?
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure


CallMeLeo wrote:


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.


I guess I don't really get the sense that the tension was broken. The family is in fragments, no one is really talking to each other, and the force that seemed to hold them all together (Mrs. Ramsay) is gone.
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

But the memories of Mrs. Ramsay keep people together, don't they?



KristyR wrote:

CallMeLeo wrote:


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.


I guess I don't really get the sense that the tension was broken. The family is in fragments, no one is really talking to each other, and the force that seemed to hold them all together (Mrs. Ramsay) is gone.






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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure



IlanaSimons wrote:
But the memories of Mrs. Ramsay keep people together, don't they?



KristyR wrote:

CallMeLeo wrote:


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.


I guess I don't really get the sense that the tension was broken. The family is in fragments, no one is really talking to each other, and the force that seemed to hold them all together (Mrs. Ramsay) is gone.






They do, but I wonder for how long? The relationship between the father and the youngest 2 is very sad. As soon as they're old enough to be on their own, will they ever want to come back?
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure



CallMeLeo wrote:

KristyR wrote:
I have to admit, I remained lost for most of this book! I enjoyed part 2, and that small section has made me want to read more of Virginia Woolf's writings. I had a hard time with parts 1 and 3. The relationships between the characters didn't seem natural to me. The women and men thought and felt all these different things but could never say them out loud, so instead they acted in passive-aggressive ways. At times I felt like telling them - just tell them what you want/need or get over it! Not very compassionate I know, but there it is.


I like your point, KristyR, about the passive-aggressive qualities in the characters. All that's not said gives rise to so much tension it takes the characters and you, the reader, to breaking point; but I think with the arrival to the lighthouse in Part 3 the tension is finally broken, peace is made. There is a sigh of relief. Closure.


Is the lighthouse a metaphor for seeing a light?

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Re: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE allusions link



KristyR wrote: Has anyone else read Scott's The Antiquary?



I am am just about to embark on reading SW Scott. This was his favorite book. I only read Ivanhoe so far.

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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:Is the lighthouse a metaphor for seeing a light?




Good prompt--I'd like to talk about what the lighthouse could mean. Woolf wrote to a friend saying that she didn't mean for the lighthouse to stand for any one thing. No rich metaphor does stand for just one thing. But I'd like to hear what you all think: How do you see this symbol at the center of her text?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-13-200704:14 PM




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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure: James sailing to the Lighthouse

As the boat sails close to the lighthouse in Part 3, James feels uncomfortable. On the one hand, he remembers the fantasies of the lighthouse he had as a kid--his vision of that flashing tower from afar. On the other, he finally sees the thing up close, with its white washed rocks and painted tower.
The clash between his childhood dream and reality hurts--he worries that his imagination had been wrong all along.

But then he finds some resolution: "No," he thinks, "the other [my fantasy of it] was also the Lighthouse. For nothing was simply one thing. The other Lighthouse was true too."

What do you make of this?
In a neat parallel, Lily tries so hard to paint a portrait of Mrs. Ramsay while the woman is alive, but she can only really finish her painting when Mrs. Ramsay's dead, giving Lily the freedom to imagine that loved woman without the interruption of actual facts.

Woolf seems to be saying that a lot of what's most "true" to us are the images we build in solitude. What else do you think she's saying in those scenes with James or Lily?



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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure: James sailing to the Lighthouse



IlanaSimons wrote:
As the boat sails close to the lighthouse in Part 3, James feels uncomfortable. On the one hand, he remembers the fantasies of the lighthouse he had as a kid--his vision of that flashing tower from afar. On the other, he finally sees the thing up close, with its white washed rocks and painted tower.
The clash between his childhood dream and reality hurts--he worries that his imagination had been wrong all along.

But then he finds some resolution: "No," he thinks, "the other [my fantasy of it] was also the Lighthouse. For nothing was simply one thing. The other Lighthouse was true too."

What do you make of this?
In a neat parallel, Lily tries so hard to paint a portrait of Mrs. Ramsay while the woman is alive, but she can only really finish her painting when Mrs. Ramsay's dead, giving Lily the freedom to imagine that loved woman without the interruption of actual facts.

Woolf seems to be saying that a lot of what's most "true" to us are the images we build in solitude. What else do you think she's saying in those scenes with James or Lily?


There are so many different ways in which people can "see" the same thing. Especially when we are remembering something, so many other forces are at work - how we felt, what we heard, what we saw, what we smelt, etc. The memory becomes more real to us than the actual object because we have added so much to the image.
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

The character's interior thoughts give us an insight into how different personalities react to the same everyday, ordinary experience. Each character has their own separate reality in their heads.

On the subject of reticence, I think Virginia Woolf's world was very different from ours where everyone goes on Oprah to "spill the beans". Is there also a cultural difference between the "friendly" American and the "reserved" British?
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Symbolism

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:

ziki wrote:Is the lighthouse a metaphor for seeing a light?




Good prompt--I'd like to talk about what the lighthouse could mean. Woolf wrote to a friend saying that she didn't mean for the lighthouse to stand for any one thing. No rich metaphor does stand for just one thing. But I'd like to hear what you all think: How do you see this symbol at the center of her text?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-13-200704:14 PM




I imagined the beam of the lighthouse to be like an eye watching, illuminating, and spotlighting the interior of the house and those within it, especially in Part 2, just as the interior lives of these characters have been illuminated by the author.

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 04-14-200712:52 PM

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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Symbolism



CallMeLeo wrote:
I imagined the beam of the lighthouse to be like an eye watching, illuminating, and spotlighting the interior of the house and those within it, especially in Part 2, just as the interior lives of these characters have been illuminated by the author.



Well said. And, no one fully knows another person's life. We only know in glimpses--like the lighthouse flashes on and off, on and off, sometimes clarifying things, sometimes leaving us in the dark. An intermittent connection keeps us optimistic but less than fulfilled in this game of knowing each other.



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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure

[ Edited ]

psb wrote:
On the subject of reticence, I think Virginia Woolf's world was very different from ours where everyone goes on Oprah to "spill the beans"



I agree. Woolf is all about that tension: some itch to spill the beans, and some sense that spilling the beans would leave us empty.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 04-14-200703:48 PM




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