Feminism in Virginia Woolf’s Novels
To the Lighthouse
To the Lighthouse shows a link between Victorian woman and independent one. It studies the responsibilities of females and particularly the transformation of modern ones. The major female characters portrayed in the story are Lily Briscoe and Mrs. Ramsey. They represent different opinions regarding life and emulate distinct ways during their look for meaning. Mrs. Ramsey practices traditional female responsibilities.
Ramsey was meant to fulfill the desires of a man and been a good mother to the children. Her presence was solely to complete the opposite gender .On the other hand, Lily is a modern and independent person. She represents modernism and neglect of olden Victorian customs and values. The modern era sees Lily having her own freedom and right to succeed without the need of having men and children.
The intentions of the author, Virginia Woolf, are to show that a woman can be satisfied without a man. In the novel, Lily has all that she requires in life. It is clearly show in the novel she says, “It has all gone against your wishes. They’re happy like that; I’m happy like this. Life has changed completely. At that all her being, even her beauty, became for a moment, dusty and out of date” (Woof, 1927).
Ramsey and Lily perceive marriage in different ways. For Lily, marriage is not an important and wishes to safeguard herself from it. With Ramsey, it is inevitable and advices Lily to get married. She does not appreciate the painting made by Lily about negative thoughts in marriage.
Between the Acts
The novel indicates changes towards current resolutions. The author noticed father-son fights for supreme power in the family based on patriarchal history. Patriarchal theories also involves women been sexual objects to men. This is in contrast to modern will that incorporates matriarchal principles. In this principle, the female desires to rule her family by herself therefore does not see the need of submitting to a man.
This mostly happens in the current world. This inspires Woolf to write Between the Acts novel. “The modern times were extraordinarily important in transforming our view of literary tradition into what we now call ‘the canon’ (Woof, 1981). This shows the changes that take place with time. Through understanding the current customs, it reflects with historical experiences.
Sexual dialectic has been a common theme in many of Woolf’s novels though she represents it in a different manner. Woolf identifies feelings that support patriarchal communities through paying attention to loyalty, values and sexual fantasies which make females characters in the novel to be attracted to Giles Oliver. His wife, Isa hopes for a better tomorrow as she hopes for a change after World War 1 in order to be more idealistic with love. This portrays independence and viability.
It is through struggles that Giles and Isa go through hate and love moments. It is through fights that they can be able to embrace love. Through such struggles modernism merges. Their marriage acts as an age towards the new era through the struggles they go through.
As much as Isa struggles with her marriage, she is still tied to Giles. She learns more about independency when she has already gotten into marriage. It could be due to experiences hence becomes a lesson for her. It takes a while before she realizes that she ought not to stick in a marriage whereby her husband is cheating on her.
The initial customs and traditions forced a woman to be persistent even if conflicts arise or when the husband is disrespectful. Men are seen to struggle with the changes too. Isa perseveres in some way as she waits for the end of World War 1 in order for changes to occur including marriage laws. Woolf develops a historical aspect of drama.
Male characters do not have visions and their thoughts are non-dominative. This is contrast with To the Lighting whereby dominance is greatly seen. This is perhaps to indicate the advancements of life as time progresses. They lack power over female characters that are seen to having become enlightened. Lucy Swithin believes in independency since it makes one become satisfied with life without the need of other people.
She represents the matriarchal community via valuing herself as a woman hence does not allow dominance by men. Lucy recognizes the natural past. She declines the normal historical system with regards to ideas of change and ultimate difference. The author believes that through literature, she is capable to contradict with traditional literature works. She ventured into writing for the hope of changing already established taboos regarding women’s roles towards men.
This would show seriousness hence a man can see the significance of a woman. She has created a unique system which made people see life in a different way. The novel demonstrates the transformation as from Isa’s experiences in marriage up to Lucy’s need for a change hence the essence of this novel compared to her other works
Woolf, Virginia. “Between the Acts.. Ed. Stella McNichol.” (1992).
Woolf, Virginia. “To the Lighthouse.” San Diego: Harvest-Harcourt (1927).
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