Essay On Lily Briscoe's To The Lighthouse

1286 Words6 Pages
Often times, humans are known to reflect on their past actions in search of significant moments contributing to their life purpose. The novel To the Lighthouse has many hidden meanings within the characters thoughts and actions relating to the themes of the novel. Lily Briscoe, a young female artist and guest staying at the Ramsay family summer cottage, reflects on a painting in progress throughout the novel. Over the course of 10 years, the characters and environment change dramatically, causing Lily to continually make alterations to her painting until she finds it perfect. Lily’s reflections throughout the novel offer insight on art as a meaning of gender relations, preservation, and a significant life. At the start of the novel, Lily…show more content…
This lowers Lily’s confidence about her skills as an artist and she begins to view the painting as “infinitely bad” (48)! She reflects on the gender norms in the current time period. It is common for women to be married and raise children, they are meant to comfort and care for others. Mrs. Ramsay represents this belief. She encourages Mr. Ramsay when he feels down about his works, but also questions why he needs this constant reassurance. Mrs. Ramsay feels that Lily will not succeed in art and should focus on marriage, which is why she tries to feel helpful by continuously mentioning the marriage of Lily and Mr. Bankes.
During the novel, Lily tries to analyze the different aspects of Mrs. Ramsay so she can correctly portray her in the composition. It is revealed that Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay are in search of something to make their life significant in the eyes of others. This is one thing Virginia Woolf mentions throughout the novel to emphasize the desires many people have in the world today. Mr. Ramsay reflects on being remembered through his philosophical works and research after his life has ended. Mrs. Ramsay finds significance and importance in making memories with others to build a memorable reputation. Lily notices this when she realizes Mrs. Ramsay wants Lily to marry Mr. Bankes.

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