To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What is the relationship between the Lighthouse and the novel's narrator? Can the narrator or the author fully disappear from the work?

  2. 2

    What are the main symbols of the novel, and what do they signify? How does the narrative structure of this novel make symbols important?

  3. 3

    How do men and women in the novel respond to the gender roles that they perceive or that are imposed upon them?

  4. 4

    What is the place of objectivity and omniscience in the novel, if the text merely expresses subjective consciousness throughout most of the narrative? Does Virginia Woolf fully replace the literary convention of the objective, omniscient narrator, or does objectivity enter the novel indirectly?

  5. 5

    In the final section of the novel, just before Lily achieves her vision, she speculates on the importance of distance. How are distance and art related?

  6. 6

    Can art be permanent or express permanence? How do each character's creative power and artistic works address the fleeting or the permanent?

  7. 7

    How does Lily Briscoe perceive Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and her relationships with them? Is she more similar to one than the other? Is she more dissimilar to them than similar?

  8. 8

    What is the significance of water (especially the sea) throughout the novel? Does it represent transcience or permanence?

  9. 9

    What does the Lighthouse signify to individual people in the novel, and do they invest it with symbolic meanings that resonate with their own characters and relationship?

  10. 10

    What is the significance of Woolf's varying depictions of time? When and how do these depictions change?

  11. 11

    What is the significance of stream-of-consciousness and free indirect discourse in the novel? What do these techniques achieve? How do they influence our reading of the book and our understanding of the characters?