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To The Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf Essay example

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The opening scene of To The Lighthouse between Mr Ramsay and Mrs Ramsay displays the gender division that flows throughout this passage highlighting Woolf’s own perspective on society and sexuality between genders. Woolf supports the belief in a complete change to society resulting in a non – hierarchical society. Woolf felt for this to happen aside from the practical changes, that a radical redefinition of sexuality was also needed. The novel focuses on sexual issues of the twentieth century central to feminist campaigns, such as marriage being a form of institutionalized slavery . She brings to attention one of Freud’s most well-known theory, the oedipal conflict. The author draws upon the story of Oedipus who kills his father and marries his mother. Freud states that the daughter demands the attention of the father and the son the attention of her father. In doing so this monopolizes the love the son has for the mother at the risk of jealousy from the father, due to the dominating attention the child wants from the mother. Similarly, this oedipal triangle is formed between James and his parents. Woolf gives reference to Freud and his views on male development and family dynamics by sharing his views on the unconscious whilst talking about them in her own way. She “absorbs many of Freud’s insights about male and female gender identity, yet at the same time infected them in a manner now known as feminist.” The dialogue between the Ramsay’s and James is seen by the reader to express feelings equating to sexual intensity in the way he loves his mother and hates his father, simply by his reaction to Mr Ramsay’s comment about the foul weather. His preference for his mother over his father is clear when he states she is “ten thousa...


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...want to be a mother" (15.374) this is seen to be of a humorous nature yet it draws to the attention of the reader Blooms ability to sympathize with the women around him and his ability to consider the pain and struggles they go through. Joyce utilises Bloom as a voice that appreciates women and understands their plight.



Works Cited

Justin Levenstein. ‘Ulysses, Dubliners, and the Nature of Relationships in the Modern World’. Emergence: A Journal of Undergraduate Literary Criticism and Creative Research. Available from(WWW) http://journals.english.ucsb.edu/index.php/Emergence/article/view/21/100 Date Accessed: 11/12/13
Virginia Woolf In To The Lighthouse( p68
Ljiljana Ina GJurgjan. The politics of gender in Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and James Joyce’s A portrait Of The Artist Of A Young Man. (Zagreb: 2010) pp 9
James Joyce. To The Lighthouse. (pp330)



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