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To the Lighthouse Characters

by Virginia Woolf

Character List

Mrs. Ramsay

Mrs. Ramsay is the loving and hospitable wife of Mr. Ramsay. She is highly domestic, focusing on her roles as mother and wife. She deeply admires her husband, although she cannot tell him that she loves him. She is responsible and strong, but she dies unexpectedly in her fifties.

Mr. Ramsay

Mr. Ramsay is dominated by rationality and scientific reason. He is in search of truth and greatness, and he fears that he is rather inadequate for not achieving his aims. Neither affectionate nor sentimental, he nevertheless inspires admiration in his wife, although she becomes irritated with his insensitivity.

Lily Briscoe

A young, unmarried painter friend of the Ramsays. She is extremely fond of Mrs. Ramsay and feels a profound sense of emptiness after she dies. She begins a portrait at the beginning of the novel that she cannot finish until the end, ten years later, when the Ramsays reach the Lighthouse.

James Ramsay

The youngest Ramsay child, James is six years old when the book begins. He adores his mother and is violently resentful of his father. He enjoys cutting images out of magazines and wants desperately to go to the Lighthouse when he is young.

Paul Rayley

A young friend of the Ramsays, visiting them at their summer home, Paul proposes to Minta Doyle on the beach as Mrs. Ramsay wished.

Minta Doyle

A young woman visiting the Ramsays at their summer home, Minta accepts Paul Rayley's marriage proposal.

Charles Tansley

An odious athiest whom none of the Ramsays particularly like, Charles is one of Mr. Ramsay's philosophy pupils. He is insulting and chauvinistic, trying to discourage Lily from painting. He is often concerned with the affairs and status of others and is very self-centered. He finds Mrs. Ramsay quite beautiful and is proud to be seen walking with her.

William Bankes

An old friend of the Ramsays visiting their summer home, William is a botanist. He is a gentle man of about 60, and Mrs. Ramsay hopes that he will marry Lily Briscoe--making thinly veiled attempts at getting them together. He and Lily remain close friends, and she trusts him deeply.

Augustus Carmichael

An unhappy poet who takes opium and achieves little success until after World War I. Because of his controlling wife, he is not fond of Mrs. Ramsay.

Andrew Ramsay

The oldest son of the Ramsays, Andrew accompanies Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle on their engagement walk to the beach. He is a gifted mathematician, but he dies fighting in World War I.

Jasper Ramsay

One of the Ramsay sons. He enjoys shooting birds, which disturbs his mother, while Mr. Ramsay thinks that doing so is normal for a boy of his age.

Roger Ramsay

One of the Ramsay sons, Roger is adventurous and most similar to his sister, Nancy.

Prue Ramsay

Prue is the oldest of the Ramsays' daughters, and her mother expects her to be an exceptional beauty when she grows up. Although Prue marries, she dies during the following summer of an illness related to childbirth.

Rose Ramsay

One of the Ramsay daughters, Rose is aesthetically inclined. She enjoys making beautiful arrangements and choosing her mother's jewelry.

Nancy Ramsay

One of the Ramsay daughters, Nancy is adventurous and independent, secretly hoping for a life much different from her mother's. She does not seem domestic. She accompanies Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle on their engagement walk to the beach.

Cam Ramsay

Cam is the Ramsays' youngest daughter. She is an energetic and mischievous child, and Mrs. Ramsay laments that she must grow up and suffer. Cam sails with James and Mr. Ramsay to the Lighthouse in the final section of the novel.

Mrs. McNab

The witless and leering housekeeper, Mrs. McNab is asked to enter the Ramsays' home after years of disuse to open the windows and dust the bedrooms.

Macalister

A fisherman friend who accompanies the Ramsays to the Lighthouse.

Macalister's boy

The fisherman's son who rows the Ramsays to the Lighthouse.

Badger

The Ramsays' toothless dog.

Kennedy

The Ramsays' lazy gardener.

Mrs. Bast

A woman who comes to help Mrs. McNab clean the Ramsays' summer home during the "Time Passes" interlude.

George Bast

Mrs. Bast's son, who also helps clean the Ramsays' house.

Mrs. Beckwith

A visitor to the Ramsay house at the Lighthouse.

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