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IlanaSimons
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure: Lily's Painting

Lily finally finishes her painting by putting one bold stroke down the center. Woolf's sister, Vanessa, was a painter, and she also sometimes structured her paintings with a bold vertical line.
How do you see that bold vertical line in Lily's case? What does that line mean to her?

To The Lighthouse has a few bold verticals: There's the lighthouse, and there's Mrs. Ramsay who seems to stand at the center of the book, with all eyes looking on. Everyone wants to see or understand Mrs. Ramsay, and no one fully knows her.



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CallMeLeo
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure: Lily's Painting


IlanaSimons wrote:
Lily finally finishes her painting by putting one bold stroke down the center. Woolf's sister, Vanessa, was a painter, and she also sometimes structured her paintings with a bold vertical line.
How do you see that bold vertical line in Lily's case? What does that line mean to her?

To The Lighthouse has a few bold verticals: There's the lighthouse, and there's Mrs. Ramsay who seems to stand at the center of the book, with all eyes looking on. Everyone wants to see or understand Mrs. Ramsay, and no one fully knows her.


I see now after reading your post the lighthouse, the vertical pillar, and Mrs. Ramsay, the pillar of strength. How different my second reading of the book will be from the first!

That vertical line, Lily's last stroke, had me stymied. The vertical line that finished Lily's painting I saw as a line of separation, or the line of the journey the boat finally took from island to lighthouse, but I have to admit I wasn't sure of it's significance, and I'm still not.
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Re: Part 3: A link to Lily's Painting

Here's a link to some of Vanessa Bell's paintings in the Tate Gallery. Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.




http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ArtistWorks?cgroupid=999999961&artistid=731&page=1
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse & Closure: Lily's Painting

Thanks a lot for the link to Vanessa's paintings.
I like what you've written about the vertical line: that it marks a moment of separation. I see that. In the first part of the book, Lily sits at Mrs. Ramsay's knees, grasping them, in love, wanting total connection: "Sitting on the floor with her arms round Mrs. Ramsay’s knees, close as she could get, smiling to think that Mrs. Ramsay would never know the reason of that pressure, she imagined how in the chambers of the mind and heart of the woman who was, physically, touching her, were stood, like the treasures in the tombs of kings, tablets bearing sacred inscriptions, which if one could spell them out, would teach one everything, but they would never be offered openly, never made public."
She aches to fully know Mrs. Ramsay, to be the same woman.
But by the end of the book, Mrs. Ramsay's gone, and Lily has to find comfort with herself, alone. She has to find peace with her art, her own form of expression. She marks that line down the center--and I agree with you that it's a cut, the moment of separation. Lily's able to stand up on her own. She can love, but she's not consumed by a need for utter union.

It's also neat to see that both Lily and Mrs. Ramsay's son, James, sit at Mrs. R’s knee, like children needing connection, in different scenes in Part 1.



CallMeLeo wrote:

IlanaSimons wrote:
Lily finally finishes her painting by putting one bold stroke down the center. Woolf's sister, Vanessa, was a painter, and she also sometimes structured her paintings with a bold vertical line.
How do you see that bold vertical line in Lily's case? What does that line mean to her?

To The Lighthouse has a few bold verticals: There's the lighthouse, and there's Mrs. Ramsay who seems to stand at the center of the book, with all eyes looking on. Everyone wants to see or understand Mrs. Ramsay, and no one fully knows her.


I see now after reading your post the lighthouse, the vertical pillar, and Mrs. Ramsay, the pillar of strength. How different my second reading of the book will be from the first!

That vertical line, Lily's last stroke, had me stymied. The vertical line that finished Lily's painting I saw as a line of separation, or the line of the journey the boat finally took from island to lighthouse, but I have to admit I wasn't sure of it's significance, and I'm still not.





Ilana
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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.


Alright, I figured out where I had heard part of Cowper's poem before, it is quoted in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Someone else mentioned it in the Mansfield Park discussion. Glad to know I'm not going crazy or anything!
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Re: TO THE LIGHTHOUSE allusions link


KristyR wrote:


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.


Alright, I figured out where I had heard part of Cowper's poem before, it is quoted in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Someone else mentioned it in the Mansfield Park discussion. Glad to know I'm not going crazy or anything!


Two different writers; two different centuries; two different women. Literature crosses time and cultures, weaving us into a universal tapestry.
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Re: Mrs. Ramsay

I recall references to Mrs. Ramsay in Part 1 as a person without hope, but her energy and care for others seemed contradictory to hopelessness. There were moments of tiredness and an unwillingness to give. It seemed she just wore herself out from the giving and caring and having one child after another, until she eventually died from it. That was my impression.

And the "I love you" that Mr. Ramsay craved, she held back almost cruelly (feeding his insecurity?), yet didn't she prove her love for him and her family with every action, every thought. Were words necessary? Its an enigma that she pandered to his ego in every other way, but these three words she, sphinx-like, withheld.
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Re: Mrs. Ramsay



CallMeLeo wrote:
It seemed [Mrs. Ramsay] just wore herself out from the giving and caring and having one child after another, until she eventually died from it. That was my impression.




Nice point. It's as if we can read Mrs. Ramsay as the older generation of women, and Lily as the younger generation. The older generation exhausted itself on the caretaking role. As you said, these women exhausted their powers in childrearing. The new generation rejects that role (Lily doesn't want to marry) but they're having a hard time finding a new role to play.



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Re: Mrs. Ramsay


IlanaSimons wrote:


CallMeLeo wrote:
It seemed [Mrs. Ramsay] just wore herself out from the giving and caring and having one child after another, until she eventually died from it. That was my impression.




Nice point. It's as if we can read Mrs. Ramsay as the older generation of women, and Lily as the younger generation. The older generation exhausted itself on the caretaking role. As you said, these women exhausted their powers in childrearing. The new generation rejects that role (Lily doesn't want to marry) but they're having a hard time finding a new role to play.





Yes I can see the beginnings of change in women's roles taking place as the older generation faces off with the new. On the one hand Mrs. Ramsay respects Lily's independence and unique qualities, sees something special, yet ironically persists in encouraging her to marry as a necessary fulfillment. (A role urged on VW that she had to constantly battle?)And Lily in Part 3 does not give in to the surrogate Mrs. Ramsay role Mr. Ramsay demands of her just to boost his ego and pander to his emotions. She sees right through him, and how she wishes to avoid him! This is my favorite part because Lily didn't give in and because of its touch of comedy, humor being so rare in this novel.
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Re: Mrs. Ramsay



CallMeLeo wrote:

IlanaSimons wrote:


CallMeLeo wrote:
It seemed [Mrs. Ramsay] just wore herself out from the giving and caring and having one child after another, until she eventually died from it. That was my impression.




Nice point. It's as if we can read Mrs. Ramsay as the older generation of women, and Lily as the younger generation. The older generation exhausted itself on the caretaking role. As you said, these women exhausted their powers in childrearing. The new generation rejects that role (Lily doesn't want to marry) but they're having a hard time finding a new role to play.





Yes I can see the beginnings of change in women's roles taking place as the older generation faces off with the new. On the one hand Mrs. Ramsay respects Lily's independence and unique qualities, sees something special, yet ironically persists in encouraging her to marry as a necessary fulfillment. (A role urged on VW that she had to constantly battle?)And Lily in Part 3 does not give in to the surrogate Mrs. Ramsay role Mr. Ramsay demands of her just to boost his ego and pander to his emotions. She sees right through him, and how she wishes to avoid him! This is my favorite part because Lily didn't give in and because of its touch of comedy, humor being so rare in this novel.


Gasp!!! You mean if I have 3 more children it might kill me?:smileywink: Just kidding!
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Re: Mrs. Ramsay



KristyR wrote:Gasp!!! You mean if I have 3 more children it might kill me?:smileywink: Just kidding!




ah! you have five? Woolf had none--so tell us if you think this portrait seems to miss, or get, some part of mothering.



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Re: Mrs. Ramsay



IlanaSimons wrote:


KristyR wrote:Gasp!!! You mean if I have 3 more children it might kill me?:smileywink: Just kidding!




ah! you have five? Woolf had none--so tell us if you think this portrait seems to miss, or get, some part of mothering.


I think this portrait does show a caring mother, not only to her own children, but to anyone else she can "collect". She reminds me in a way of Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, with her preoccupation with marriage, probably a product of that generation as someone else pointed out.

What really confused me was Mrs. Ramsay's relationship with her husband, and her husband's with their children. It said several times how much he loved his kids, but I guess couldn't express it. Then there was the fact that his youngest child wanted to stab him everytime he entered the room! I assumed Mrs. Ramsay loved her husband, but she refused to say it.
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Re: Mrs. Ramsay

[ Edited ]
KristyR wrote:

"... Then there was the fact that his youngest child wanted to stab him everytime he entered the room!..."


Is James an embodiment of the Oedipus complex? Does he also reflect Virginia Woolf's relationship with her own father. Sir Leslie Stephens has been described as a bully and in other negative ways but also as devoted to his family.

Message Edited by psb on 04-17-200712:28 PM

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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse

It seems our reading isn't creating much discussion and I'm wondering if, perhaps, that is because it is sometimes very difficult to hold the thread of the "story" together. Earlier 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."

Then there is this in Chapter XI of part three. Lily Brisco is thinking about the Ramseys and VW writes,

"Love had a thousand shapes. There might be lovers whose gift is was to choose out elements of things and place them together and so, giving them a wholeness not theirs in live, make of some scene, or meeting of people (all now gone and separate), one of those globed compacted things over which thought lingers, and love plays"

I have thought and thought about this passage and still am unable to get the gist of it.

Any thoughts?

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IlanaSimons
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Re: Part 3: The Lighthouse



saltydog wrote:
Then there is this in Chapter XI of part three. Lily Brisco is thinking about the Ramseys and VW writes,

"Love had a thousand shapes. There might be lovers whose gift is was to choose out elements of things and place them together and so, giving them a wholeness not theirs in live, make of some scene, or meeting of people (all now gone and separate), one of those globed compacted things over which thought lingers, and love plays"



Nice find, Saltydog! I love this quotation. Here's what I get from it:
1. Mrs. Ramsay's got a sort of love in which she "choose[s] out elements of things and place[s] them together [for a] meeting of people" when she connects friends in marriage--and when she hosts a dinner party, bringing disparate parts together to form a whole. The whole that she forms sings.
We also see her bring elements together in her fruit organizing for the table's centerpiece--and in her serving Boeuf en Daube, which is a stew that combines different elements, to form a mixture that works.
2. Lily also "choose[s] out elements of things and place[s] them together and so, giving them a wholeness not theirs in live, make[s] of some scene...one of those globed compacted things over which thought lingers, and love plays" when she paints Mrs. Ramsay, giving her own heartfelt form to the pieces she observes. She knows she can't know Mrs. Ramsay from all sides, in all places, but must finally be content with the "whole" that she forms in memory.
3. Everyone in the book "choose[s] out elements of things and place[s] them together and so, giving them a wholeness not theirs in live, make[s] of some scene, or meeting of people (all now gone and separate), one of those globed compacted things over which thought lingers, and love plays" when they sort through their memories--especially of the dead Mrs. Ramsay. We've got to create some whole (whether it's a dinner party, painting, philosophy textbook (Mr. Ramsay), or novel) from what we know. We love through creative memory. I see the lighthouse’s flash as the active, effortful mind.

Woolf said she wrote To The Lighthouse to remember, and give a fulfilling shape to, her own dead mother. We partly value things by how we reconstruct them in solitude.



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Re: Mrs. Ramsay

Agreed: In certain parts, James's relationship to his dad read straight out of Freud--with competition for authority and for mom's love.
Woolf said she didn't like Freud (though she and Leonard, her husband, printed Freud from their own Hogarth Press). Woolf's brother Adrian was a psychoanalytic therapist, and Woolf said she thought it was hogwash.
Freudian ideas do race all thru her text. She came up with a lot of the same ideas, without him.



psb wrote:
KristyR wrote:

"... Then there was the fact that his youngest child wanted to stab him everytime he entered the room!..."


Is James an embodiment of the Oedipus complex? Does he also reflect Virginia Woolf's relationship with her own father. Sir Leslie Stephens has been described as a bully and in other negative ways but also as devoted to his family.

Message Edited by psb on 04-17-200712:28 PM







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God

In part 3, James looks at Dad and sees this: "He rose and stood in the bow of the boat, very straight and tall, for all the world, James thought, as if he were saying, 'There is no God.'”

So...what about God? How would you describe Woolf's spirituality, based on this book?



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Re: God



IlanaSimons wrote:
In part 3, James looks at Dad and sees this: "He rose and stood in the bow of the boat, very straight and tall, for all the world, James thought, as if he were saying, 'There is no God.'”

So...what about God? How would you describe Woolf's spirituality, based on this book?


I don't know what to make of this passage. I found the statement rather odd when I first read it and haven't been able to come up with anything after rereading it. I don't really remember reading anything regarding spirituality, but I only read the book once. Can you point me to some other passages to reread?
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Re: God

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:
In part 3, James looks at Dad and sees this: "He rose and stood in the bow of the boat, very straight and tall, for all the world, James thought, as if he were saying, 'There is no God.'”

So...what about God? How would you describe Woolf's spirituality, based on this book?



Isn't Mr. Ramsay's omnipotence an illusion, bolstered by Mrs. Ramsay. But nevertheless he is the patriarch of his family, responsible for all, and the children are in awe of him. There is a mixture of fear, respect, loathing, and a need for approval. Even Mrs. Ramsay outwardly bows down to his authority.

I think for Woolf and in TO THE LIGHTHOUSE there is a kind of spiritual connection to everything and everyone, although Mrs. Ramsay rejects calling that connection "God".

The children are raised on philosophy; Mrs. Ramsay "reverences" Mr. Ramsay's intelligence and is "exalted" by nature and poetry; and Mr. Ramsay "worships" her beauty. Mrs. Ramsay cannot accept the traditional God because he allows evils in the world.

Message Edited by CallMeLeo on 04-20-200709:35 AM

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Re: God


CallMeLeo wrote:

IlanaSimons wrote:
In part 3, James looks at Dad and sees this: "He rose and stood in the bow of the boat, very straight and tall, for all the world, James thought, as if he were saying, 'There is no God.'”

So...what about God? How would you describe Woolf's spirituality, based on this book?


I think for Woolf and in TO THE LIGHTHOUSE there is a kind of spiritual connection to everything and everyone, although Mrs. Ramsay rejects calling that connection "God".

The children are raised on philosophy; Mrs. Ramsay "reverences" Mr. Ramsay's intelligence and is "exalted" by nature and poetry; and Mr. Ramsay "worships" her beauty. Mrs. Ramsay cannot accept the traditional God because he allows evils in the world.


Here, KristyR, are some passages I found for you that might help. Mrs. Ramsay ruminates more about life and God before and after this quote, but I think that would have been too much to put here.


...and pausing there she looked out to meet that stroke of the
Lighthouse, the long steady stroke, the last of the three, which was
her stroke, for watching them in this mood always at this hour one
could not help attaching oneself to one thing especially of the things
one saw; and this thing, the long steady stroke, was her stroke. Often
she found herself sitting and looking, sitting and looking, with her
work in her hands until she became the thing she looked at--that light,
for example. And it would lift up on it some little phrase or other
which had been lying in her mind like that--"Children don't forget,
children don't forget"--which she would repeat and begin adding to it,
It will end, it will end, she said. It will come, it will come, when
suddenly she added, We are in the hands of the Lord.

But instantly she was annoyed with herself for saying that. Who had
said it? Not she; she had been trapped into saying something she did
not mean. She looked up over her knitting and met the third stroke and
it seemed to her like her own eyes meeting her own eyes, searching as
she alone could search into her mind and her heart, purifying out of
existence that lie, any lie. She praised herself in praising the
light, without vanity, for she was stern, she was searching, she was
beautiful like that light. It was odd, she thought, how if one was
alone, one leant to inanimate things; trees, streams, flowers; felt
they expressed one; felt they became one; felt they knew one, in a
sense were one;
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