This paper examines the position that consciousness is a cardinal subject in To the Lighthouse[ 1 ]and is used to research the nature of world both as it relates to the subjective universe of persons and the nonsubjective universe that society agrees on. Further, that Mr and Mrs Ramsay appear to stand for the two facets, Mr Ramsay aim and Mrs Ramsay subjective and that Lily Briscoe ‘s character is used to decide the inquiry of how one individual can do sense of these seemingly conflicting internal and external positions of world. In a sense, the terminal of the book when Lily has her vision could be read as her work outing Mr Ramsay ‘s life work into ‘subject and object and the nature of world. ‘ ( p.26 )
In many ways Woolf ‘s manner is watercourse of consciousness ; tonss of ideas presented without clear differentiations between them or who is holding them. Sometimes we see the characters through their ain eyes, sometimes one character is believing about another one, and sometimes the writer appears to be doing her ain remark on a character without being perfectly certain of her facts about them. We see how internal battles impact outward actions and impact the manner characters perceive each other.
Woolf uses her auctorial voice in the manner she frames and selects certain facets of her characters that she would wish us to see and non others. If a watercourse of consciousness technique had been used throughout nevertheless, this would non hold been so obvious. As Ayers puts it:
“ To the Lighthouse presents the consciousness of assorted characters in an parlance which sometimes is borrowed from the heads and voices of the characters, and at other times is cast in a narrative voice which is independent of the character ( s ) even while it narrates harmonizing to their idea and cognition. This means there is still an auctorial voice nowadays ”[ 3 ]
She selectively dips in and out of her characters ideas, into the head of another character, and back once more.
“ aˆ¦the lines dividing storyteller and writer, and storyteller and character, are, in most instances, really vague. In some cases, hence, it is critical to see, to ‘feel ‘ , the assorted ways the writer places the storyteller, since the place the reader feels will frequently set up for him the storyteller ‘s location in the scene ; and this non merely steadfastly identifies him but besides clarifies his relationship to the action. ”[ 4 ]
All her characters speak in the same parlance, they can non truly be differentiated by the words they use. They are non believing off the top of their caputs ; their ideas are articulated in a extremely formulated prose. Mr Ramsay is characterised by the all-knowing storyteller in footings of rational facts and outward world:
“ What he said was true. It was ever true. He was incapable of untruth ; ne’er tampered with a fact ; ne’er altered a disagreeable word to accommodate the pleasance or convenience of any mortal being, least of all his ain childrenaˆ¦ ” ( p.4 )
Subsequently on in the first subdivision the same statement about whether it will be all right plenty to travel to the Lighthouse tomorrow is continued, but this clip we are taken into the consciousness of Mr Ramsay and see that his position of world is, after all, coloured by passion. But it is a passion for the absolute as it affects his household. He wants their internal world to fit the external universe:
“ The extraordinary unreason of her comment, the foolishness of adult females ‘s heads enraged himaˆ¦and now she flew in the face of facts, made his kids hope what was utterly out of the inquiry, in consequence, told prevarications. ” ( p.36 )
More is revealed about how him, nevertheless, when we are shown Mrs Ramsay ‘s perceptual experiences. Mrs Ramsay is depicted as the antonym of her hubby, trusting on her feelings and intuition to unite people[ 5 ]:
“ To prosecute truth with such amazing deficiency of consideration for other people ‘s feelings, to rip the thin head coverings of civilisation so wantonly, so viciously, was to her so atrocious an indignation of human decency. ” ( p.37 )
Three consciousnesses are used in this illustration to demo that world is non merely what is ‘out there ‘ in the physical universe, but that there is besides an interior world of feeling, which can non be separated from external force per unit areas. In each illustration above, the sense of world displacements somewhat, as does the reader ‘s perceptual experience of each character ‘s consciousness.
This sense of displacements in consciousness and world is set up from the first page:
“ aˆ¦James Ramsay, sitting on the floor cutting out images from the illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores, endowed the image of a icebox as his female parent spoke with celestial cloud nine. It was fringed with joyaˆ¦though he appeared the image of stark and sturdy badness, with his high brow and his fierce blue eyesaˆ¦so that his female parent, watching himaˆ¦imagined him all ruddy and ermine on the Bench or directing a austere and momentous endeavor in some crisis of public personal businesss. ” ( pp.3-4 )
The omniscient storyteller shows us James sitting on the floor, dips into his consciousness to state us how he is experiencing, goes back out once more to depict what he looks like so goes into his female parent ‘s imaginativeness as she looks at him. Auerbach[ 6 ]calls this the ‘multipersonal representation of consciousness ‘ and Nussbaum[ 7 ]Tells us ‘the reader isaˆ¦constantly made aware of the profusion of consciousness, and of the enormous spread between what we are in and to ourselves, and the portion of the ego that enters the interpersonal universe ‘ . None of the characters are shown to the reader with absolute lucidity, as seen through a lensman ‘s lens, but as perceived by human consciousness ; glances caught and disclosures made.
Woolf is seeking to demo life as it is lived. Not as a neatly packaged event with good understood motivations and defined beginnings and terminations, but as a series of perceptual experiences and little minutes of understanding which invariably shift over clip harmonizing to the influence of those people around us.
Fictional characters are shown seeking to cover with the struggle between their ain internal world, their consciousness or province of being, and the external world, the ‘real ‘ universe with its outlooks of how things are, as generated by society and the manner nature is ‘real ‘ independent of any human force on it.
James thinks things that a six twelvemonth old male child would non really be believing. Woolf takes James ‘ simple hatred of his male parent queering him and uses ‘highly stylised and metaphorical ‘ linguistic communication ‘comprised of grammatically precise sentences ‘[ 8 ]to explicate how he feels about his male parent interrupting his relationship with his female parent.
“ he hated him for the ecstasy and sublimity of his gesturesaˆ¦but most of all he hated the twang and chirrup of his male parent ‘s emotion which, vibrating round them, disturbed the perfect simpleness and good sense of his dealingss with his female parent. ” ( p.42 )
In this instance, James ‘ consciousness is non hazy at all ; it is crisp and focussed, but the linguistic communication used forces the reader to the decision that this perceptual experience is given to him by the storyteller for her ain intents, to rise the tenseness and make an ambiance of blink of an eye hatred. That it does non accurately depict the words that a male child of James ‘ age would utilize does non needfully intend that it is non true, that it does non accurately convey his feelings. That the voice of the storyteller is assorted with James ‘ high spots the trouble of accommodating an internal world with an external codified and recognised one. This changeless shifting in narrative voices besides highlights the troubles of of all time cognizing all of another individual, which Love has presented as a job:
“ The trouble with the Ramsays, in short, is this: Peoples who seem to cognize one another bash non genuinely cognize one another. They have a certain tense harmoniousness and brotherhood, but even as they are united, they are discordant within themselves and with one another. Knowledge is ignorant ; harmoniousness contains inharmoniousness ”[ 9 ]
But much of what Woolf seems to be stating with her characters is that they do non really know themselves to the full. Merely as there is no 1 world, no significance of life, there is no 1 unwavering internal nucleus of ego cognition and belief ; it is invariably altering with external influences. Even when Lily Briscoe has her vision it is acknowledged as fleeting, as a little portion of life:
“ aˆ¦she looked at her canvas ; it was blurred. With a sudden strength, as if she saw it clear for a 2nd, she drew a line at that place, in the Centre. It was done ; it was finished. Yes, she thought, puting down her coppice in utmost weariness, I have had my vision. ” ( p.242 )
Lily could be read as a combination of both Mr and Mrs Ramsay as she wants to acquire beyond her interior world, typified by Mrs Ramsay and represent it through her art, in an outward manner. This is what Mr Ramsay does, although he uses words instead than art and does non hold to fight in the same manner that Lily does to give herself permission to paint. His internal battle is more of the nature of cognizing he is non rather the Great Man he would wish to be, but he does cognize that it is his right to be one, whereas Lily feels that the mere act of picture and anticipating to be taken earnestly as an creative person is something she has to contend for, she is cognizant of ‘her ain insufficiency, her insignificance. ‘ ( p.22 )
Ayers sees To the Lighthouse as holding a ‘pessimistic decision ‘ because Lily ‘s picture is destined to be ‘confined to a future loft ‘[ 10 ]but it could besides be interpreted as being positive on the single graduated table as Lily does hold her vision ; she comes to an apprehension of life and her topographic point in it that does non depend on being shown in an art gallery of the ( male ) constitution. So there is more than a ‘ [ probationary suggestion of ] the importance of art in glorifying the minute ‘[ 11 ]because that Transfiguration takes topographic point on an single footing.
Lily has achieved her ain personal integrity in the face of opposing, commanding forces and outlooks such as Mr Ramsay ‘s illustriousness and his demands for understanding, George Tansley ‘s remembered ‘women ca n’t paint, ca n’t compose ‘ ( p.184 ) and Mrs Ramsay ‘s fear for work forces and her function as the household ‘s emotional Centre. In that minute she reconciled the internal and external, the subjective and nonsubjective. Woolf it seems is stating that it is merely on this fugitive moment-to-moment footing that life can be understood but that these minutes build on top of each other to supply fresh versions of world, which can in bend be renegotiated and perceived.