Male and Female Relations in Virginia Woolf's to the Lighthouse

2940 Words Jul 28th, 2011 12 Pages
Male and Female Relations in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse
Male and Female Relations in To The Lighthouse To The Lighthouse exemplifies the condition of women when Woolf was writing and to some extent yet today. It offers a solution to remedy the condition of both men and women. To say the novel is a cry for a change in attitude towards women is not quite correct. It shows the struggle of both men and women and how patriarchy is damaging to both genders. Mrs. Ramsey. Both suffer from the unequal division of gender power in Woolf's society. Lily is also very much a product of society, yet she has new ideas for the role of women and produces one answer to the problems of gender power. Besides providing these examples of
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The one man who is productive is Mr. Carmichael. It is interesting to note that he does not allow Mrs. Ramsey to support him. He refuses her and seems somewhat scared of perhaps falling back into the trap of patriarchal roles. Woolf tells us that Mr. Carmichael shrinks form Mrs. Ramsey and that, "she felt him wince. He did not trust her" (Lighthouse 40). Mr. Carmichael is productive because he does shrink away form Mrs. Ramsey and the sterilization that comes with the patriarchal relationships of men and women.

Ms. Ramsey's state of submission leads her to develop her power in other areas. Woolf suggests in fact, "that all this desire of hers to give, to help, was vanity. For her own self-satisfaction was it that she wished so instinctively to help, to give" (Lighthouse 41). Here Woolf implies that desire to give is a sort of vanity, a vanity that is control. Woolf also points out that, "Wishing to dominate, wishing to interfere, making people do what she wished. That was the charge against her, and she thought it most unjust" (Lighthouse 57). Of course Mrs. Ramsey should want to dominate in some arena. Men deny her control of her own life, so she reverts to subtle manipulation of others. John Stuart Mill states in The Subjection of Women, "[Women's] power often gives her what she has no right to, but does not enable her to assert her own rights" (155).

The power that Mrs. Ramsey cultivates is a perverted power created
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