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Essay on Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Forster's Howards End

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In both Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Forster's Howards End, most of the characters are devoid of any social conscience until circumstances beyond their control force them to realize that being morally responsible to one another is the key to happiness. Only when this connection is made can each person realize their true potential for personal growth. First, in To the Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsey is constantly portrayed as a self-absorbed man who thinks of what he could have been and how people perceive him. Mr. Bankes thinks about Mr. Ramsay, “Could one help noticing that habits grew on him? Eccentricities, weaknesses perhaps? It was astonishing that a man of his intellect could stoop so low as he did- but that was too harsh a…show more content…
Only by helping others does Mrs. Ramsay enjoy life. Her entire life as well as her perception and self-identity revolve around fulfilling what she believes are the needs of other people. On the other hand, Lily Briscoe says about herself, “there was her father; her home; even, had she dared to say it, her painting....”she liked to be alone; she liked to be herself; she was not made for that... her dear Lily, her little Brisk, was a fool (53). Lily constantly compared herself to Mrs. Ramsay as well as others and fell short of who she felt that she should have already become. But Lily Briscoe is a dreamer and a lazy person who would rather complain about her life than actually do something about it. However, after finding out that she was dying, she says to herself, “For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of—to think; well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone... she became the thing she looked at- that light, for example” (65,66). Once she reveals to her husband that she is dying her entire purpose for living changes. She becomes the lighthouse to her family lighting their way to become to each other what she had been to them. For instance, after they return to the house, Lily relates that Mr. Ramsay had said to Mrs. Beckwith, the housekeeper, “You will find us much changed” and none of them had spoken; but had sat there as if
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