Saturday, 31 October 2015

Feminism in to the Lighthouse

Topic: Feminism in ‘To the Lighthouse’ 
Paper: 9
Paper Name: The Modernist Literature 
Name: JasaniNidhi R.
Roll No.: 16
Class: M.A. Sem.3
Year: 2014-2015
P.G. Enrolment No: 14101018
Submitted to: M.K. Bhavnagar University, Department of English

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          Virginia Woolf was pure feminists. She was born in 1882. Virginia has huge family, and she is youngest daughter of large family. Her father name was Leslie Stephen, he was critic and philosopher, and he was very famous in Victorian England. Virginia also gets something from her father as heritage. Her father have rich library, that’s why she used to read book from it. Virginia also get chance to meet great writers like Thomas Hardy, William Thackeray and many other. She get chance to listen her father scholarly talk with that great person. Her mother’s name was Julia Stephen; she was the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. In childhood teacher come to her home for teach her, she did not used to go to school. At that time she think that why her father denied her to get formal education like men. She think that ‘Why I can’t go to school?’ Virginia and her brother Thoby, both are member of well known ‘Bloomsbury Group’. The Bloomsbury group was known as notorious group. Aestheticism and feminism are main idea of this group. Her sister Vanessa was painter. She paint cover page of the Virginia’s book or novel. Virginia marred with Leonard Woolf. He was taking care of her and appreciates her extra-ordinary talent. She committed suicide by drawing herself in a river (1941). Virginia was well read and knowledgeable person, elegant style. In Virginia’s novel we found an intellectual commitment to political, social and feminist principles.
· What is feminism?
In feminism we found that women should have economic, political and social equality with men. Term feminism is refers to political movement and right to vote for woman. We found that not only woman but anyone can be feminists like men and women, girl and boy. This term also can be called as a feminist movement. This movement and feminists are demand men and women all are equal without any kind of boundary. Feminists appeal for equality and freedom for women. The feminist critic wants to explain gape the gender gap, men are superior to women. We found huge gender gap among man and woman. This movement is known women’s liberation movement, and women’s right to vote.
The first feminist book was ‘A vindication of the right of women’ by Mary Wollstonecraft. The term feminism is adopted world widely and socially also. Feminism is “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. And another one is organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interest. This term was first used in 1895.” (According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary) At some point feminism have not any ‘fundamental definition’, it is in very wilder sense. It draws attention to women’s issues in men mad society. In short reading of any kind of book with perspective of women is known as feminist reading of the book.
·      Feminism in Virginia’s other work. (her quotation) 
Generally in Virginia Woolf book we found intellectual commitment to political, social, economic and feminist principles. She writes about suffering of women in patriarchal culture especially British patriarchy. Virginia found that omitted by men from being the maker of these masterpieces, so she created for women a female liberation in “A room of one’s own” (1929). In her short story “A society” (1920), she write about a group of women who join together to investigate the masculine world. She was very famous, active and interested writer of feminist question. She portrayed different type of women in various backgrounds. She also gives many interesting quotation in her different books. Like, “Women must have money and room of her own if she is to write fiction” “Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in herself.” “The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of emancipation itself.” “It is fatal to be mam or woman pure and simple: one must be a woman manly or a man womanly.
·      Feminism in To the Lighthouse
When we refer history, we found that women have to straggle for free themselves from the boundary of men, culture and religion. Women try to get space in literature also. In 'To the Lighthouse’ we found two female characters Mrs. Caroline Ramsay and Lily Briscoe. The character of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe portray these demanding roles. Both are totally differing from each other(Pinkney).
·      Character of Lily Briscoe
Lily was guest at Ramsay family’s summer house. She is single; she is in her thirty-three. She is painter and free minded woman. She played role as a truly liberated female artist. Lily is representative of pure feminist woman who change male dominated society to get (achieve) a sense of individuality. She wants to live her life alone. In the novel we found that Charles Tensely who says that ‘women cannot write and women cannot paint’ Lily tries to prove that woman can paint. Through write this novel Virginia proves that woman can write and through creating the character of Lily Briscoe she prove that woman can paint. Lily finished painting at the end of the novel, she demonstrate herself as a truly liberated female artist. Lily was rule breaker, she has desire to stay away from conventional female culture norms and stereotypes of male dominated society. Lily maintain her status as medal age young woman, who valued artistic achievement over the prospect of marriage, it is difficult to maintain. The burden to conform to specific female gender roles weighs heavily upon her conscious: “Even while looked at the mass, at the line, at the color, at Mrs. Ramsay sitting in the window with the James, she kept a feeler on her surroundings lest someone should creep up and suddenly she would find her picture looked at(Feminism in To the lighthouse essays).”

          Lily faces many problems and suffers from a typical male dominated society, her desire to pursue art or painting as a vocation because she is woman, and we found male prejudice upon woman. In novel we found that she peak paintbrush instead of needle. She was aware about gender stereotypes. Lily doesn’t marry in her life. Lily has confident on her art and painting. In this novel Lily’s art is essentially metaphorical a radical political statement of feminism ideals. Lily is unable to obtain an empowering sense of female liberation. Lily finished the painting at the end of the novel; the first section emphasizes sense of self as an artist and as a woman living in world ruled by men. In the novel she is outsider of the family. Lily drowns a painting of Mrs. Ramsay sitting in the openly transparent window of the cottage with James, her youngest son and doing knitting. They both have their portrait painted by Lily, looking at them through the window from position outside on the law(Feminism in To the lighthouse essays).
          Here we can says that Virginia create character of Lily as young woman and free woman with art of painting. At one point Lily’s painting is actually painted by Virginia herself. When we look at painting what we found in painting, is the framing of the other woman. In painting what Mrs. Ramsay is doing? She doing very typical household work like, taking care of James and knitting. We can say that Virginia cannot give free spas to Mrs. Ramsay, even in painting also. In this novel we found clash of gender ideologies much of the novel and Virginia emphasizes a subversion of traditional female gender roles through character of Lily Briscoe. In novel we found struggle to obtain and assert female autonomy is constantly threatened or undermined by a society built upon patriarchy or male dominated society.
·      Character of Mrs. Ramsay 

Mrs. Caroline Ramsay is very beautiful, charming and nurturing character. She is loving and caring wife of Mr. Ramsay. She is thread of Ramsay family; she holds all Ramsay family together. In novel we found that she is like very typical Indian woman, who wake up early in the morning, go into kitchen, make breakfast for family member. She like to decorating dining table. She used to serving delicious food to family member and guest also, she believes in hospitality. She wants to remain present in mind of family member. In chapter-1 she is alive, but even in chapter-2 after her death Mrs. Ramsay remain central character. Everybody in family remembers (miss) her a lot through the novel. In the chapter -3 we found that Lily revisited her memories related with Mrs. Ramsay, and makes harmony with her ghost (memory). She recalls what Mrs. Ramsay tall her about marriage and she also remember her one sentence, ‘close the door and open the window’.
          We found that Mrs. Ramsay is character, who is constantly present not only as worldly presence but also in the mind of the family members. She takes all responsibility of family. In novel we found that when she asked for money from Mr. Ramsay ask her question. She is not economically free woman; she must have to give falsify or record of the money, sometime he refuse to give. But she cannot give counterpoint to her husband; she is perfect housewife or homemaker. It is very difficult to maintain both husband and her son James. Sometime James became angry that his mother cannot give attention to him, she only talk and love my father.
·      Conclusion
There is so many things related with feminism are found in novel, this is only fling view of it. We also found Virginia try to connect Greek mythology in the book. In Greek goddess are in center. Here we compare character of Mrs. Ramsay with three Greek mythical characters like Rhea, Demeter and Persephone. Mrs. Ramsay is symbol of female principal in her life. Many women in novel either or silently subvert conventional female gender roles. We found that the three daughter of Mrs. Ramsay's daughter silently reject the life that their mother chose for her. They want to live their life as Lily live.

Works Cited

Feminism in To the light house essays. 31 December 1969. 31 October 2015 <>.
Pinknry, Makiko Minow. Virginia Woolf and the Problem of the subject. 1. America: Edinburgh Uinivercity press, 2010.

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