To the Lighthouse

how does Virginia Woolf present the theme of marrige in part one The Window in the novel "To The Lighthouse"

talk on the theme marriage and its importance in the novel and also about gender issues with examples from the book

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"For how would you like to be shut up for a whole month at a time, and possibly more in stormy weather, upon a rock the size of a tennis lawn? she would ask; and to have no letters or newspapers, and to see nobody; if you were married, not to see your wife, not to know how your children were,— if they were ill, if they had fallen down and broken their legs or arms; to see the same dreary waves breaking week after week, and then a dreadful storm coming, and the windows covered with spray, and birds dashed against the lamp, and the whole place rocking, and not be able to put your nose out of doors for fear of being swept into the sea? How would you like that? she asked, addressing herself particularly to her daughters. So she added, rather differently, one must take them whatever comforts one can."

Her Mrs. Ramsay tells her daughters in no uncertain terms that men 'need' to be married if for no other reason than to provide company and care, to keep from being lonely. She uses the plight of the men at the lighthouse imbibe in her daughters that marriage is a natural 'course' in life.

"Prue, Nancy, Rose — could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers; in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at table beneath their mother’s eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a queen’s raising from the mud to wash a beggar’s dirty foot, when she admonished them so very severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them — or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them — in the Isle of Skye."

The girls find their mother's life mundane, and the more she speaks about what a woman's life should be, the more they dream of another.


To the Lighthouse