To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse: Mind and Body, Dark and Light

In To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf focuses in great detail on the workings of dark and light on the relationships between her characters. The presence of light or dark tends to govern certain scenes: light brings people together in a harmony based on the physical environment, while darkness instead symbolizes the isolated, interior consciousness. Twilight, of course, represents a balance between the two extremes: characters seem at once distant in their mental spaces from one another and connected in the environment they share, transcending the modern problem of isolation and also retaining individuality. At one instant of twilight, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay represent an ideal of marriage-the balance of light and dark outlines their figures as symbols of something more than their isolated selves, but allows them to maintain their individual solidity as well. In the moment of twilight, Woolf acknowledges the possibility of a balance of the interior and exterior that offers a counterweight to the modernist problem of the solipsistic, entirely isolated person.

Woolf founds unity upon the ability of light to emphasize physicality, and it is through the physical environment that characters realize their connections, unifying their...

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