To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse


Virginia Woolf

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on To the Lighthouse makes teaching easy.

To the Lighthouse: Time Passes, 4 Summary & Analysis

The “stray airs” enter the packed-up house and meet no resistance to their “nibbling” at the things people left behind: furniture, dishware, old clothes, etc. Light on the bedroom wall is “a flower reflected in water.” “Loveliness and stillness clasped hands” and together make “the shape of loveliness itself, a form from which life had parted.” It is serenely undisturbed by the questions asked again and again by the stray airs (“’Will you fade? Will you perish?’”). The peace is only broken very rarely, as when a board creaks, or a fold of the shawl loosens. Then, Mrs. McNab tears “the veil of silence” when she comes to clean the house.
Vacated by the Ramsays, the house is no longer governed by human structures of meaning. Instead, it is slowly worn away by fleeting bits of wind and presided over by the lifeless beauty of light and peace. This new state is only disrupted by the return of human order in the person of Mrs. McNab.
Time Theme Icon
The Meaning of Life Theme Icon
Art and Beauty Theme Icon