To the Lighthouse

Who is the “Model” Mother? College


In To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf portrays Mrs. Ramsay as the “model” mother. Loved by her children, depended upon by her husband and admired by her neighbors Mr. Bankes and Lily Briscoe, Woolf creates a seemingly amorphous character made up of a collection of descriptions from the people who surround her. Through this fluid character, Woolf systematically synthesizes the “model” mother’s identity. With a structured precision, Woolf divides her synthesis into three parts. She poses her question regarding the “model” mother’s identity in “The Window” through Mr. Ramsay’s philosophical work, presents an example of the mother in “Time Passes” through creating the parallel of a house and a mother, and reaches a conclusion about the “model” mother’s true identity in “The Lighthouse” through Lily Briscoe’s completed painting.            

Before delving into her synthesis, Woolf introduces her subject of study, Mrs. Ramsay, through the eyes of her son who finds her optimism and caring spirit as a source of...

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