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Literature / To the Lighthouse

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Virginia Woolf Modernist novel published in 1927. The plot, such as it is, centres on the visits of the Ramsay family to their summer home in Scotland before and after World War I, where they are joined by numerous friends and acquaintances and where they all spend a good deal of time contemplating their navels, ruminating on the political and social landscape of the times, and arguing about the weather.


The book, which drew heavily on Woolf's own childhood memories, was the author's most commercially successful, and she herself considered it her best work.

This work contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: Part I, "Someone had blundered"; Part III, "We perished, each alone"; Also, "To the lighthouse" for the whole book.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Much to the latter's frustration, Mrs Ramsay finds it impossible to simply tell her husband she loves him, despite the fact that they have been married for years.
  • Death by Childbirth: Prue Ramsay.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Andrew, Prue, and Mrs Ramsey during Part II.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Charles Tansley.
  • The Quest: To the Lighthouse. It takes years.
  • Rule of Symbolism: As a Modernist novel, this is to be expected. Also, in universe, Lily Briscoe's portrait of Mrs Ramsey is itself contructed of symbols.
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  • Stay in the Kitchen: Charles Tansley, who asserts to painter Lily's face that "Women can neither paint nor write."
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Mr. Ramsay to James during Part III.

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