Abstract

Abstract:

"Woolf's Feminine Spaces and the New Woman in To the Lighthouse: The Cases of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe": Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse is distinguished by the spaces in it, starting with a family summer house and culminating in the eponymous lighthouse. Yet those spaces are more than settings: each contributes a layer of meaning to the novel's plot. In mapping those meanings onto the plot, readers can see how the various spaces, particularly in the Ramsays' vacation home, help dramatize the ways in which gender roles and expectations are formed and reinforced in the characters of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe. In fact, as I will argue, Woolf constructs a novel that shows in its use of particularly charged spaces more than it explains. Mrs. Ramsay, the Victorian housewife, and Lily, the "New Woman," are made more complex to the reader when they perform their roles in spaces that are carefully constructed according to Victorian norms of behavior. By tracing their behaviors and thoughts, this paper shows that Mrs. Ramsay acts as though she is the Angel in the House; her thoughts, however, frame her as a potential New Woman. In contrast, Lily, the aspiring artist, represents the New Woman, but actually does not become one until later in the novel, after her relationships to these spaces mature.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-3377
Print ISSN
0743-6831
Pages
pp. 73-101
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-28
Open Access
No
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