Social Concerns / Themes
To the Lighthouse is considered to be a semi-autobiographical text which recollects family holidays which Woolf took with her family at St. Ives, Cornwall, although the novel is set in the Hebrides.
"The Window" is the first of the novel's three sections. It is the longest and describes in detail a summer day on which Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay along with their eight children and several guests are on holiday. Among these favored guests are the poet Augustus Carmichael, the painter Lily Briscoe and the academic Charles Tansley. On this holiday, there is much family anxiety as James, the youngest child, wants to visit the lighthouse in spite of his father's desire to thwart his attempts to do so. This section of the text resolves around a dinner party as Mrs. Ramsay reflects on change.
"Time Passes" follows with the death of Mrs. Ramsay and of her son, Andrew, who is killed in the War. Woolf's lyricism flows throughout this section as the family home is abandoned and is ostensibly renewed during the postwar period with the arrival of Lily Briscoe and Mr. Carmichael. "The Lighthouse" sees Lily Briscoe successfully complete a revelation o( shape-in-chaos which she believes she owes to Mrs. Ramsay, and the pilgrimage of Mr. Ramsay, Camilla, and James to the lighthouse explores the rivalry and loss which torment them.
Woolf's concerns here are both personal and social: She represents in her novel the pain of grieving and the weight of...
(The entire section is 302 words.)