To the Lighthouse

Methods of Expression and the Limitations of Speech in Woolf's To the Lighthouse

"For there are moments where one can neither think nor feel. And if one can neither think nor feel, she thought, where is one?" (Woolf, 193-4)

In To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf illustrates a division between her male and female characters. The males commonly represent left-brained, factual, calculating, predictable approaches to thinking, while the female characters exemplify the oppositethe right-brained, creative, spontaneous, and emotional forms of expression. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay best demonstrate the opposing sides divided by a barrier existing between the sexes that snubs any real communication. While Mr. Ramsay is comfortable in the structured constraints of language and the framework it provides, Mrs. Ramsay is more adept to the artistic, emotional ways of perceptionshe feels rather than articulates. Woolf portrays the female as the representation of the semiotica constantly flowing chain of signifiers that occurs with the use of language and never settles upon a single, fixed "meaning."

The relatively secure meanings of "ordinary" language are harassed and disrupted by this flow of signification, which presses the linguistic sign to its extreme limit...The semiotic is fluid and plural, a...

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