To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse


Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse: Time Passes, 3 Summary & Analysis

A whole autumn and winter’s worth of dark nights pass, “full of wind and destruction.” The trees are ravaged. “[T]he sea tosses itself and breaks itself.” It would be futile for any sleeper to rise and “ask the night those questions as to what, and why, and wherefore.” Inside a parenthesis, Mr. Ramsay reaches his arms out in the hallway on a dark morning and, since Mrs. Ramsay has died suddenly the previous night, his arms “remained empty.”
As the novel speeds up and tracks the cyclical time of the natural world, human structures of meaning fall to the wayside. Indeed, Mrs. Ramsay’s death which is, from the human perspective, an incredibly important event, is only recorded in a one-line parenthetical.
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