To the Lighthouse


Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse: The Lighthouse, 13 Summary & Analysis

On the lawn, Lily says, “He must have reached it.” The Lighthouse has disappeared into the haze and she is weary from looking at it and imagining Mr. Ramsay landing at it, “which…seemed to be one and the same effort.” Lily feels she has finally given him the sympathy she had wanted to give him that morning. Mr. Carmichael stands beside her and says, “They will have landed,” making Lily feel that he has in fact been in synced conversation with her all morning, despite his silence. He appears to her like a kind “old pagan god” presiding over all humankind.
Lily’s reflection dissolves the barrier between interior and exterior life as well as the barriers between separate people: she feels that her interior imagination of Mr. Ramsay’s reaching the Lighthouse and Mr. Ramsay’s own exterior experience of reaching the Lighthouse are one and the same. Lily feels time and experience have become communal, and she believes the distant Mr. Ramsay has received her sympathy as she believes Mr. Carmichael has shared her silent thoughts.
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Lily looks at her painting and thinks once again how it will be thrown away and forgotten, but doesn’t care. With sudden clarity, she draws a line in the middle of the canvas, then lays down her brush, exhausted. She thinks, “Yes…I have had my vision.”
Confident that the meaning of art lies in ambition and vision rather than in material product, Lily finishes her painting. What happens to the painting is less important her—or not important to her—compared to the fact that she feels she has captured her vision and immortalized it into art.
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