上海交通大学 硕士学位论文 论《到灯塔去》中的双性同体论和女权主义思想 姓名：曹秀萍 申请学位级别：硕士 专业：英语语言文学 指导教师：童剑平 20050627
弗吉尼亚﹒伍尔夫是上个世纪一位颇有争议的传奇式女作家 她的经典小说 到灯塔去 是为了纪念已故的父亲母亲而创作的一 女权主义
双性同体论 和 的视角来探讨这部小说 双性同体论是伍尔夫在其论著 一间自己的房间 要观点 即 两性之间的合作是最完美的 才富有创造性
评论家们应用于研究伍尔夫以阴阳转换为主题的小说 奥兰多 文则将这一观点用于探讨 到灯塔去
人意的女性气质来调节由于男性极端主义而引起的生活中的种种不 和谐 婚姻 其中包括她怎样处理发生在孩子们中的矛盾 如何保全她的 怎样在她设计的大型家庭晚宴上微妙地消除一些不和谐因素
可以看出拉姆齐夫人身上体现了追求生活和谐完美 调节制造良好 生活氛围的双性同体精神 同样通过分析女画家莉莉如何克服传统 力图汲取拉姆齐先生身上追
求事业与拉姆齐夫人身上追求生活和谐的两性因素 并将二者完美 结合于自身及她的绘画 可见在莉莉身上也体现了双性同体精神 努力实现自己的理想过程
但她的这一精神是在完善她的绘画艺术 中实现的 相比较而言
具有更高的精神境界 反映了她更为强烈的自我意识 伍尔夫的女权主义思想在 一间自己的房间 也有反映 她认 即
为 一个女人要想写小说一定要有钱 还要有一间自己的屋子 妇女要经济独立 要有自己的社会地位
本文试图将她的这一女权视点用于探讨拉莫齐夫人和莉莉身上体现 的女权主义精神 同时结合了语言学中的词频统计方法 通过分析
一些高频词 如 “fine” [weather], “short-sighted” “sea”, “tree” “green” [shawl] “purple” [triangular shape] 探讨作者分别赋予拉莫齐夫人
和莉莉身上的乐观 种女权主义精神 认为
敢于面对自我 反对父权 追求自我实现的种 通过比较女权精神在二人身上的不同体现 本文
莉莉的女权主义精神是在有意识地追寻自我 实现自我的过 与拉莫齐夫人体现的处于萌芽状态的女权主义精神相
更具有自觉性和主动性 本文从不同的视角分析了伍尔夫小说中两位女性人物 得出结论
具有更自觉 更执著地追寻 本
To the Lighthouse is the master piece of Virginia Woolf, who is a much disputed woman writer of the last century. The novel recalls the family life of Woolf’s earlier time with a special focus on her parents. The thesis aims to explore the novel from the perspectives of androgyny and feminism respectively. The idea of androgyny is one of the noted views highlighted in Woolf’s important works A Room of One’s Own. Woolf states in this book that neither purely masculine nor purely feminine mind can be most creative, only when the fusion of them takes place, the mind is fully fertilized and uses all its faculties, and a great mind is androgynous. This view has been broadly used to examine her fantasy novel Orando, in which the protagonist transforms from the initial masculine identity to the final feminine identity. The thesis tries to use this view in the exploration of To the Lighthouse. Chapter 2 focuses on the two female characters of the novel, Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, to explore how androgyny gives different expressions in the two of them. The androgyny of Mrs. Ramsay is shown in her relationship with her children, the marriage maintained by her sacrificing effort as well as her delicate coordination in a grand dinner celebrated at home, while Lily’s androgyny is reflected in her struggles to absorb the masculine aggression in career and the feminine sensitivity in harmony within herself and balance them well in her painting. It can be
concluded that Lily’s androgyny holds a more positive meaning than Mrs. Ramsay’s for Lily’s consciousness of self-identity and her striving for self-accomplishment. Woolf’s feminist views are reflected in A Room of One’s Own as well. She states in this book that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction, in which we have her feminist idea that economical independence, social equality and self-accomplishment are the prerequisite for a woman to become a writer. Chapter 3 of the thesis is a feminist study of the two female characters with the aid of the statistical means of lexical frequency. Some feministic spirits such as optimism, independence, anti-patriarchy and self-consciousness are found in Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe by studying such high frequency words as “fine” [weather], “short-sighted”, “sea”, tree”, “green” [shawl], and “purple” [triangular shape]. It can be concluded that the feminist spirit of Mrs. Ramsay is still in its early stage of development when compared with that of Lily, whose striving for independence, equality and selfaccomplishment is more conscious. Different methods lead to one conclusion, that is, Lily Briscoe embodies a more perfect and ideal personality than Mrs. Ramsay does. This methodology could be applied to the study of Woolf’s other works as well. Key words: androgyny, Mrs. Ramsay, Lily, feminism
本人郑重声明 所呈交的学位论文 是本人在导师的指导下 得的成果 除文中已经注明引用的内容外
表或撰写过的作品成果 对本文的研究做出重要贡献的个人和集体 确方式标明 本人完全意识到本声明的法律结果由本人承担
2005 年 6 月 27 日
同意学校保留并向国 本人授权上 可以采用
海交通大学可以将本学位论文的全部或部分内容编入有关数据库进行检索 影印 缩印或扫描等复制手段保存和汇编本学位论文
保密 本学位论文属于 不保密 请在以上方框内打
日期 ２００５ 年 ６ 月 ２７ 日 日期 ２００５ 年 ６ 月 ２７ 日
Introduction and Preliminaries
The study of Virginia Woolf’s literary works from the point of view of androgyny traces back to the 1970s, while the corresponding study from the point of view of feminism starts at the late 1960s. The present thesis is a study of Virginia Woolf’s classical novel To the Lighthouse from these two perspectives. The main contributions are summarized as follows: 1. The androgyny embodied by Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe are respectively found and carefully studied. 2. Some feminist spirits in Mrs. Ramsay and Lily are found and analyzed by the statistical means of lexical frequency. Before proceeding to the main topics of the thesis, some preliminaries are needed. This chapter recalls some of the backgrounds of Virginia Woolf and her writings, especially the novel To the Lighthouse. The origins of the terminology Androgyny and Feminism would also be reviewed.
1.1 Virginia Woolf
1.1.1 Life Virginia Stephen was born in 1882, the third of four children in an intellectual family of London. Her father was a famous scholar, historian and literary critic. Her mother was a woman of noted beauty, who appeared in several Victorian novels and was painted by many well-known artists. Unlike her brothers who were sent to excellent schools and Cambridge University, Virginia and her sister were educated at home, although Virginia had already demonstrated a remarkable gift in reading and writing. Such discrepancy between the treatment of men and women was a subject that concerned her all her life. She was taught by tutors and also learned much from the famous intellectuals who visited her father, but she always regretted her lack of formal school education.
Virginia’s health was innately fragile and a series of deaths in her immediate family which darkened her early life aggravated her vulnerable nature. During her lifetime, Virginia suffered from several mental breakdowns. Her first breakdown happened shortly after the unexpected and premature death of her mother in 1895, which Virginia later described as “the greatest disaster that could have happened”(Hu, 2003:
159). Two years later, her stepsister Stella died. Virginia fell sick soon after her death.
In 1904, her father died shortly after he finished Dictionary. Virginia suffered a second mental breakdown and attempted a suicide. When she recovered, Virginia moved to Bloomsbury, a section of London, where she began to seriously consider herself an artist. She immersed herself in an intellectual company which included E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachery and later they formed the well-known Bloomsbury Group. They discussed questions of art and philosophy with open minds, and examined all ideas commonly held by the society, looking for elements of insincerity and false logic. The group’s importance lay in the high number of brilliant, talented people who made Bloomsbury the center of new ideas in England. In 1912, when she was 30, Virginia married Leonard Woolf, her brother’s classmate at Cambridge, who was a writer of historical and political books. After marriage, she suffered another nervous breakdown. But when she recovered, she benefited from the new steadiness in her life which her husband provided. Since Leonard knew Virginia’s gifted ability in literature, he encouraged her to write fiction and helped her all her life by editing her work. In 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf established their own publishing house, the Hogarth Press, in London. They played a most important role in publishing works of other writers, who were their friends, such as T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster. In 1941, Virginia fell ill, and fearing another nervous breakdown which would overburden her husband, she left a suicide note behind for her husband and sister and drowned herself in a river near her country home. Her death came as a shock to the people of England.
1.1.2 Literary career During her short life, Virginia was a prolific writer and created a certain amount of works which included fictions, diaries and essays. Her sensitive self made lots of the experiences and impressions of her early years reflected in her fictions. According to David Lodge(1993), Virginia Woolf as a fictionist exemplified clearly a tendency among modernist writers to develop from a realist to a symbolist representation of experience. The essential line of her literary development may be traced through the following novels: The Voyage Out (1915), Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931) (her other books being, most critics agree, diversions, digressions or regressions from this line). The distance in technique between The Voyage Out and The Waves is almost as great as that between Dubliners and Finnegans Wake of James Joyce. The Voyage Out is a typical realism work among her early novels. Later on, she persevered to experiment with new literary techniques, influenced by James Joyce, until her first completely successful novel, Mrs. Dalloway, appeared in 1925. This novel was written in her own original style, the action of the whole novel taking place in one day, like Joyce’s Ulysses. Her second success was To the Lighthouse, which was published in 1927; the memorable characters in this book were based closely on her own parents. Her special style combined stream of consciousness with the accumulation of many details, while limiting her story to a short span of time. This created a strong feeling of intensity which was, in fact, one of her characteristics. In 1931, she wrote The Waves, in which she tried to expand the stream of consciousness method, to make it a philosophical way of depicting characters in the context of time. Woolf also examined other ways in which people experience time in The Years (1937). Then in 1939 she wrote her last book, Between the Acts. Like Mrs. Dalloway, the action of the novel takes place in one day, but it describes the staging of a village play that records England’s history while, at the same time, the scene is filled with foreboding as the Second World War approaches. In this way, the author could expand the reader’s consciousness of time into the past and future while telling the events of a single day in the present.
1.1.3 Writing style The stream-of-consciousness type is largely a twentieth-century development and is attributable to the influence of the so-called “new psychology”. This kind of novel is chiefly concerned with chronicling the mind and the thought of the central character as that person passes through a series of experiences. Writers who have performed in this realm are James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, et al. In her major works, Virginia Woolf wanted to experiment with this new technique to emphasize the continuous flow of people’s experiences in life, and to show how external circumstances only affect a person to the degree that he notices them or takes account of them, each according to his own type of character. She also wanted to show the contradictions of time, which always exists in the present tense, yet flows unbroken through the years and centuries. In her most popular novels, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, she showed her technical mastery as a writer. Both books have a tightly organized form, in which the time of the action is very short, allowing space for much detail, and in which images recur like rhymes in a poem. Her use of very long sentences, difficult syntax and large vocabulary sometimes make her books hard to read. 1.1.4 Some concerns reflected in her works 126.96.36.199 The concern about the meaning of life In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that all her important books are concerned with the question that opens the third section of To the Lighthouse: ‘What does it mean then, what can it all mean?’ ‘It’, of course, is life. The question of the meaning of life is intimately tied up with the fact of death. A shrewd reader might deduce from most of Woolf’s fictions that they are all explicitly concerned with the question of the ‘meaning of life’, and all involve the sudden, premature deaths of one or more of the major characters. Either life is meaningless, or death makes it so: Virginia Woolf’s fiction is the trace of her efforts to extricate herself from that existential double-bind, to affirm the value of life in the teeth of disappointment and death. 188.8.131.52 The concern about women Virginia Woolf’s works also reflect her concern about women. She noted the
significance of woman’s writing, with the awareness of her identity as both a woman and a writer. She wished to establish a female identity for women through her accounts of female experience and did not intend to create “superwomen” to beat men. From her point of view, woman faced much difficulty in attaining her self-identity in the male-dominated society and woman should make good use of her pen as a tool to fight for her success. Feminist thinking permeated most of her works including fictions and nonfictions, such as To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, and A Room of One’s Own. Feminism to her refers to “an intense awareness of her identity as a woman, her interest in feminine problems”(Marder, 1974: 1). She did not advocate an antithesis between the masculine and feminine. On the contrary, she promoted the integration of the two sexes and the cultivation of an androgynous mind within an individual. To her, a piece of art nurtured by the androgynous mind outlasted other biased composition. This is also one of the themes reflected in To the Lighthouse.
1.2 Androgyny, Feminism, and Woolf’s Novel To the Lighthouse
1.2.1 Androgyny The idea of androgyny originates from Greek civilization. Androgyny is a Greek word, “andro” stands for the male and “gyn” refers to the female. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “androgyne” suggests “a being uniting the physical characters of both sexes”(Oxford English Dictionary: 452). Some traces of androgynous idea can be found in the works of ancient Greek philosophers. The following story in Plato’s the Symposium (1979) conceives the original idea of the androgyny:
Man’s original body having been thus cut in two, each half yearned for the half from which it had been severed. When they met, they threw their arms round one another and embraced, in their longing to grow together again, and they perished of hunger and general neglect of their concerns, because they would not do anything apart.(p.61)
This story suggests that man is originally androgynous in nature, but is punished by the God of Zeus, dividing man into two separate entities, namely the masculine and the feminine. As a result, both the masculine man and feminine woman search for the lost half and then accomplish the unity and balance of a whole man. Ancient androgynous idea may be tinted with some theological and mythical colors. However, with the development of modern civilizations, the idea was endowed with more rational elements. One of Woolf’s well-known feminism works, A Room of One’s Own, published in 1929, elaborates more on her ideal androgynous mind and warns the women writers of the fatality of writing in a limited scope:
It is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death… it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.(p.99)
Woolf states obviously in this quotation that a writer should be androgynous, should in some sense combine manly and womanly qualities. She argues that, when writing, a woman should forget about her sex and should be open to both the manly and the womanly aspects of herself. She believes that a great work of art or composition should be one of a harmonious balance between the masculine and feminine elements. In A Room of One’s Own, the idea of androgyny is also incorporated in Woolf’s advocacy about women and fiction. Virginia Woolf’s assertion of the ideal of androgyny has given rise to some of the important and heated debate about her work. In the early 1970s, two influential works endorsed the idea of androgyny and took it to be central to the interpretation of Woolf’s fiction. Nancy Topping Bazin in her book Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision(1973) put forward a psychological interpretation of the ideal of androgyny according to which it was rooted in Woolf’s personal manic-depressive
psychological history. The manic phase is seen as associated with her mother, and by extension with the feminine gender. The depressive phase is seen as associated with her father, and by extension with the masculine gender. Androgyny is interpreted as an ideal balance between these two forces. Woolf’s life and career are seen in terms of her struggle to find harmony between her opposing tendencies, to find a lost sense of wholeness. Although Carolyn Heilbrun’s Toward a Recognition of Androgyny(1973) is not specifically a study of Virginia Woolf, she gives her view on the ideal of androgyny, which is the liberation of individuals from the constraints of imposed masculinity or femininity. When she later finds it necessary to distinguish androgyny from feminism, she acknowledges that in modern society it might be difficult to separate the defenders of androgyny from feminists, because of the power men now hold, and because of the political weakness of women. Heilbrun also discusses the Bloomsbury Group as the living personification of this idea in this book. According to many critics, Virginia Woolf’s ideal of androgyny reflects her need to integrate the different warring aspects of her own personality. She seeks to escape from the battleground of personal desires and needs, to “find peace in a realm of transcendental significance(Mepham,1992: 63). This move is indicated by her ideal of androgyny, and is most explicitly expressed in Women and Fiction. In this essay, androgyny is not a feminist concept but “a denial of her feminist anger and an attempt to escape from her alienation from her own body”(Ibid). In chapter 2 of the thesis, such androgynous views advocated by Woolf will be used to explore two female characters in To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe. The exposure of the characters’ internal minds shows Woolf’s idea of androgyny in its ideal form. Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe personify different types of androgyny. Mrs. Ramsay’s androgyny is realized in her marriage, as well as in her social and domestic relationship with her children and friends, while Lily’s androgyny is achieved within herself by the end of the novel. 1.2.2 Feminism According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary(1995), ‘feminism’ has two meanings,
one refers to the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; the other is the organized movement on behalf of women's rights and interests. Widespread concerns for women's rights dates back to the Enlightenment, which is a movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of social, religious, and political ideas of that time and an emphasis on rationalism. Its first important expression was Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. Milestones in the rise of modern feminism included Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex (1949) and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) and the founding of the National Organization for Women in the United States in 1966. Virginia Woolf has already showed her concern of feminism in A Room of One’s Own, stating that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” (Woolf, 1929: 6) which hints Woolf’s feminism of economical independence, social equality and the self-accomplishment. In chapter 3 of the thesis, such feministic views will be applied to explore how women in the beginning of the 20th century strive for the female right in a male-dominated society. Mrs. Ramsay and LiLy Briscoe showed not only the idea of androgyny but also the feminist spirits of selfconfidence, equality, independence, and anti-patriarchy. 1.2.3 Virginia Woolf’s creation of the novel To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf’s previously unpublished memoir, Moments of Being(1976), contains two essays which clarify the autobiographical origins of To the Lighthouse. In one of the essays, ‘Reminiscences’, Virginia Woolf wrote an introduction to her family Life. In this early essay, her mother, Julia, possesses almost all the perfections of a Shakespearean ingénue, even with no flaws to make her real. Such idealization seems to be “a defense against great anger”(Lilienfeld, 1977: 610) On the other hand, her mother, ironic, skeptical and ever-busy, not given to doting on Virginia, but tied to her father whose demands she was compliant to. Such ambivalences to her mother were reflected in the novel in the delicate relationship between Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe. The angers and grudges of years of family romance also explode in this novel. Virginia Woolf uses the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse respectively as surrogates for her own parents.
Moments of Being clarifies as never before that Virginia Woolf has put herself in the figure of the belittled Lily Briscoe. To many critics, Lily Briscoe is an artist who must do in paint what the writer of the novel must do in the novel form, more than this, Lily Briscoe is a surrogate for the daughter, angry at her mother’s commitment to others, a daughter who sustains her mother’s death, and who lives beyond it to grow into her own personhood. One of the challenges Virginia Woolf faced as she wrote this book was that of transforming a selection of her memories of childhood into a fictional narrative. In her early plans, for example, she foresaw the novel set in St Ives, the Cornish town where her family spent their summers when she was a child. Before she began to write, however, she had moved the setting to the fictional village of Finlay in the Isle of Skye. The remoteness of the island, the lighthouse as a beacon and a goal, and the house as a stabilizing center are the aspects of the setting Woolf wished to stress. Woolf also decided that ‘There need be no specification of date’(Dick, 2001: 57) in this book. Both Parts I and Part III of the novel took place on unspecified days in September. By including the war, Woolf not only added resonance to the narrative, she also moved the historical context of her actual story ahead by about fourteen years. Meanwhile, Woolf treated another aspect of time, age, more selectively in this book. In the first draft, Lily’s age was designed as fifty-five. However, Woolf’s revision enabled Lily to relate to Mrs. Ramsay as a daughter rather than a contemporary. It is a delicate design that at forty-four, Lily is Woolf’s age when she wrote To the Lighthouse. The characters’ appearances are also presented more selectively. All we know about Lily’s appearance, for example, is that she has ‘little Chinese eyes’ in a ‘little puckered face’, wears sensible shoes to paint, and a ‘little grey dress’ to dinner. ‘Everything about her was so small’, Mrs. Ramsay notes (p.88). Her appearance links her to Carmichael, the other artist figure in the book. His yellow slippers and yellowstreaked beard and moustache give him both a comic and an exotic air, much as Lily’s Chinese eyes and puckered face give her.
Androgyny in To the Lighthouse
This chapter is a study of different expressions of androgyny as embodied by Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe respectively. To have a better understanding of the idea, the summary of the story and the two female characters are explored first.
2.1 Summary of the novel
Woolf structures To the Lighthouse into three parts. Part I, “The Window”, concentrates on Mrs. Ramsay. Part II, “Time Passes”, in which the time lapses for ten years, is a report of a number of deaths of the Ramsays, including Mrs. Ramsay. Part III, “The Lighthouse”, centers on Lily Briscoe. The theme of the whole novel is very simple, just “to the lighthouse”. However, the process to realize it spans about ten years, from the opening part of the novel planning to do it, to the ending part reaching the lighthouse eventually. During the whole process, the author depicted a variety of figures centered on the Ramsays, including Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, their eight children, and their guests: Charles Tansley, Lily Briscoe, Bankes, Minta, Paul, et al. The main setting for so many characters is at the Ramsays’ home. The characteristics of the various figures are also depicted during a formal dinner. Through the three parts of the whole novel, that is, a time span of ten years, several deaths of the Ramsays took place and the survivors returned to their home again and realized their plan to go to the lighthouse. Based on Virginia Woolf’s mother, Mrs. Ramsay is the hostess of the family and wants to create harmonious emotions and atmosphere for her family and her friends. Lily Briscoe, a female artist and also one of guests in the Ramsays, challenges Mrs. Ramsay’s mode of life all along. She rejects the life of serving a man and caring children which Mrs. Ramsay insist all along while seeking another type of balance in her life. In Lily, we see the selfconsciousness and spiritual progress in women of Victorian times. The novel ends with Lily’s vision of keeping her identity by her own will.
2.2 Two female characters in focus
2.2.1 Mrs. Ramsay Mrs. Ramsay is the main character in Part I of the novel. She is based on Virginia Woolf’s mother, which is revealed by the fact that when Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell read the novel, she wrote to Virginia that “It seems to me that in the first part of the book you have given a portrait of mother which is more like her to me than anything I could ever conceived of as possible”(Woolf, 1953: 60). Thus Mrs. Ramsay is depicted as a mother of eight children and embodies many characteristics of traditional woman in the Victorian times. Woolf endows her with some positive qualities as well as negative qualities which are presented in detail below. Mrs. Ramsay has a fascinating appearance and her beauty almost touches every one around her. In her husband’s eyes, she is the beauty of the world. To the young guest Charles Tansley, she is the most beautiful person he has ever seen and he even feels an extraordinary pride to walk with such a beautiful woman. Mrs. Ramsay is amiable as well. As a mother of eight children, she gives them all her maternal love, wishing that they would never grow up and be hurt by the cold world which she thinks is full of the masculine harshness. She would like to have a baby in arms all along and she feels happiest when carrying one. At the same time, Mrs. Ramsay is compliant to her husband, she is internally and externally humble and compliant in order to create the resonances between them. She even feels she is not good enough to tie his shoes strings. Although others say her husband depends on her, she never lets this thought appear in her mind for a moment. Additionally, she is hospitable to her friends and invites them to spend holidays at her home for a rather long time. She also wishes every one of them has a harmonious marriage and a happy life, and insists that every woman should have a marriage life. More profoundly she ruminates those eternal problems in life--- “suffering; death; the poor” (p.58). In most people’s eyes, Mrs. Ramsay is a perfect woman sopped full of human emotions. However in Lily’s eyes, the family and friends occupy so much of Mrs. Ramsay’s time that she seems to live for others and lose herself. Meanwhile, Mrs.
Ramsay is domineering on some occasions and always insists that the young people around her should live a marriage life which disgusts Lily. Therefore, Lily Briscoe rejects Mrs. Ramsay’s traditional way of life and wants to find a way of life which is favored by herself and distinguishes from Mrs. Ramsay’s. 2.2.2 Lily Briscoe Based on Virginia Woolf herself, Lily is depicted as an artist and one of the female guests of the Ramsays. Lily has no attractive appearance as the story begins the introduction of Lily ‘with her little Chinese eyes and her puckered-up face’. The ‘Chinese eyes’ appears five times in the whole text when mentioning Lily. Therefore, she is rather self-abased before Mrs. Ramsay, although Lily is also fascinated by the femininity and beauty of Mrs. Ramsay, for which she lacks. Even so, Lily is not totally subject to Mrs. Ramsay’s charm but is a little defiant to Mrs. Ramsay internally. Lily thinks that although Mrs. Ramsay has a perfect appearance, she is always busy with the others and never lived for herself. In Lily’s eyes, Mrs. Ramsay loses her self-identity. Contrasted with Mrs. Ramsay whose views are always enclosed in those secular things, Lily Briscoe is more inclined to the spiritual ones. The painting almost occupies her world, for the painting is the main means by which she expresses her internal world. She always cares whether the color could have been thinned or faded and some other things like this. In all, she is almost involved in painting and rejects Mrs. Ramsay’s belief that every woman should have a marriage life as well as Mr. Tansley’s words “women can’t paint, women can’t write” (p.48). She pursues her dreams and her way of living different from the traditional one. The novel ends with the vision that Lily successfully kept her self-identity and accomplished her painting. In Lily, we see a new woman image distinguished from Mrs. Ramsay. The self-consciousness of Lily is what Mrs. Ramsay lacks. With the preparation works above, we are now ready to explore the androgynies respectively embodied in Mrs. Ramsay and Lily.
2.3 Mrs. Ramsay’s androgyny
Based on Woolf’s mother, Mrs. Ramsay is a woman of eight children’s mother,
whose beautiful appearance and charming femininity make her a predominant figure in the family and her social circle. Therefore, Mrs. Ramsay’s androgyny is analyzed from the following three perspectives: her relation with the children, her marriage and a grand dinner party formally celebrated at her home.
2.3.1 Androgyny realized in her relationship with her children Mrs. Ramsay pours immense maternal love and care on her children. As a mother of eight children, Mrs. Ramsay is just like a sponge sopped full of human emotions. She always wants to protect her children, wishing that they would never grow up and be hurt by the outside world:
She never wanted James to grow a day older or Cam either. These two she would have liked to keep for ever just as they were, … never to see them grow up … [because nothing] made up for the loss … [James] was the most gifted, the most sensitive of her children. ( p.57)
James is her little son, whom she loves most and always holds in her arms when telling stories. Mrs. Ramsay doesn’t want him to grow up, thus leaving her embraces and losing his gifted sensitivity. Sensitivity is a quality of the feminine. Mrs. Ramsay doesn’t want James to lose it when he grows up, which hints that she unconsciously intends to keep a feminine quality in the tender male so as to integrate the masculine and the feminine to form an unconscious androgyny in him. In Part I, Cam, her daughter, is afraid of the boar’s skull hung in the bedroom and cannot go to sleep. So, Mrs. Ramsay “quickly [takes] her own shawl off and [winds] it round the skull, round and round and round” and tells Cam that it is “like a bird’s nest” (p.106). Cam goes to sleep in peace. The skull is a symbol of terror and threat, and it is usually favored by the masculine. Thus the skull here symbolizes the threatening from the masculine and represents the masculinity to some extent. When Cam feels threatened by it, Mrs. Ramsay disguises the harsh reality by winding her green shawl round the skull and makes Cam feel safe again. Mrs. Ramsay is not a magician who can make the skull disappear in the room. She makes use of her
sensitive and delicate mind to adjust the masculine terror so that Cam is pacified. On the other hand, Mrs. Ramsay also reassures James that the skull is still hanging on the wall: “they had not touched it; they had done just what he wanted; it was there quite unhurt” (p.106). For James, the “inheritor” of masculinity, who needs the confirmation of the presence of masculinity, Mrs. Ramsay gives him wittily. By reassuring James that the skull is still in the room, Mrs. Ramsay still retains her feminine protection over her son. The ultimate goal of Mrs. Ramsay is to create a peaceful world and to satisfy different needs of her loved daughter and son. Mrs. Ramsay’s wit is manifested in the way she twists the situations to meet the different needs of her children. Now her androgynous mind to integrate the masculine ‘skull’ and the feminine ‘green shawl’ pacifies both Cam and James so that she can tell Cam how lovely it looks now and whisper to James that the boar’s skull is still there and they have not touched it. In the opening of “The Window”, the readers are told that the Ramsays are going for a trip to the Lighthouse on the next day. James is quite excited by this excursion but the cruel reality of the bad weather leads to the postponement. Mrs. Ramsay does not want James to know the truth that the weather of tomorrow is very likely to be bad. However, Mr. Ramsay and Charles Tansley disclose the harsh reality of the postponement openly. Mr. Ramsay keeps on saying “but it won’t be fine”, Mr. Tansley insists “No going to the Lighthouse, James” (p.54). This is quite a big blow to the little boy. James, lying on his bed, asks his mother whether they would go to the lighthouse the next day. Mrs. Ramsay feels very sorry for raising hopes in James. She also feels very angry to her husband and Charles for the frustration they made to her son. The two men disclosing the fact of the weather without any regard of destroying James’s hopes reveals the harshness and cruelty of the masculine world as well as the masculine quality of pursuing exact facts. At the same time, Mrs. Ramsay’s feminine intent to smooth the hurt James contrastively appears: she would pacify James so that he is not frustrated and keeps on his hope of a future trip. Consequently, Mrs. Ramsay delicately combines the masculine quality of facing up to the reality and her feminine
intent of keeping hopes in James by admitting the truth that there will not be a trip to the Lighthouse on the following day as well as leaving James a hope in her reply: “No, not tomorrow, she said, but soon, she promised him; the next fine day” (p.56). Her words satisfy every one who is involved: James is pacified while the masculine vanity and dignity of Mr. Ramsay and Tansley are also kept. This delicate combination reflects Mrs. Ramsay’s androgynous mind which results in a harmony. Mrs. Ramsay is a representative of femininity in her intention of sustaining harmonious familial and social relationship and making use of her femininity to reconcile extreme masculinity. Her androgynous mind acted upon her children reveals her selflessly maternal love as well as her feminine ability to untie some familial entanglements, which is also shown in her marriage.
2.3.2 Androgyny realized in her marriage The Ramsays’ marriage forms another type of androgyny. The Ramsay couple agrees with Plato’s idea of androgyny, in which a male and a female join and form a unified whole. In this novel, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay are respectively endowed with the personalilties of extreme masculinity and femininity. As a result, their marriage seems stay in polarization sometimes. However, such a polarization is always reconciled by the witty Mrs. Ramsay. The perfect balance realized in the Ramsay’s marriage can be attributed to the self-sacrificing efforts of Mrs. Ramsay. Although in Part III of the novel, Mr. Ramsay steps out of his extreme masculinity by crossing over the sea and realizing androgyny on the island of the Lighthouse, he is a symbol of extreme masculinity in Part I. As a philosopher, Mr. Ramsay treasures reason and rationality, and has a zeal for truth and fact. His extreme masculinity is betrayed by his comments on the possibility of going to the lighthouse: “There wasn’t the slightest chance that they could go to the Lighthouse tomorrow, ” (p.33-34). Mr. Ramsay is not aware of the blight he imposes on others and cares only for truth. Facing such extreme behaviors of her husband, Mrs. Ramsay does not put herself in polarization with her husband. Although she is discontent with her husband’s disregarding of others’ feeling to pursue the truth or fact, she keeps the discontent just
in herself. Furthermore, she sacrifices herself to enable her husband to pursue his career without worrying about the household. She assures Mr. Ramsay that the house is full, the children are lovely and the garden is blooming under her protection and care. “If he put implicit faith in her, nothing should hurt him; however deep he buried himself or climbed high, not for a second should he find himself without her” ( p.40). She acts like any other traditional woman does to support the husband and make the family harmonious. Mr. Ramsay also compares his career to an alphabet order, considering that his career rests on the letter “R” and he is unable to advance to “Z”. In his eyes, everything is rational and goes step by step. To some extent of craziness, Mr. Ramsay pursues his philosophical career with such a passion that he always brandishes the sticks before his guests and asks for the sympathy and the recognition of his genius from his wife: [Mr. Ramsay] wanted sympathy. He was a failure, he said … never taking his eyes from her face, that he was a failure … It was sympathy he wanted, to be assured of his genius, first of all, and then to be taken within the circle of life, warmed and soothed, to have his senses restored to him, his barrenness made fertile … (p.39) He wants the acknowledgement and encouragement of his wife. Although their children hate his exactingness and egotism, she reveres him as usual and says that Charles Tansley regards him as the greatest metaphysician of the time, however, which doesn’t satisfy him. Then flashing her needles, she creates drawing-room and kitchen, sets them all aglow; bids him take his ease there, go in and out, enjoy himself. She assures him beyond a shadow of a doubt by her laughter, her poise and her competence, like “a nurse carrying a light across a dark room [who] assures a fractious child” (p.39). The consolation she offers is soothing and healing. What she does finally satisfies him. Looking at her with humble gratitude, he is restored and renewed in the pacifying femininity of Mrs. Ramsay. By satisfying the needs of her husband, she retains an equilibrium in her marriage. Mrs. Ramsay is also a dependent of Mr. Ramsay for comfort and protection. She rests on the hard certainties of the masculine world of Mr. Ramsay :
“this admirable fabric of the masculine intelligence, which ran up and down, crossed this way and that, like iron girders spanning the swaying fabric, upholding the world, so that she could trust herself to it utterly, even shut her eyes, or flicker them for a moment, as a child staring up from its pillow winks at the myriad layers of the leaves of a tree.”(p. 122). Although sometimes Mr. Ramsay disregards others’ feelings for the pursuit of the fact, his intelligence or rationality like “iron girders’ assures her “swaying” and fabricated femininity so well that she can shut her eyes to free herself as a child. Her reliance on him turns her thoughts away from the doubt and gloom which a female usually conceives, and the harmony in marriage nurtures her in spite of their contrastive characteristics in nature. Even though their marriage is androgynous and successful, there is a danger in the preservation of this kind of androgyny which involves two participants, especially when one side has to submit to the other. Mrs. Ramsay knows well that her husband holds a prejudice that woman is incapable of rationality since he always insists “men to work like that, and women to keep house, and sit beside sleeping children indoors, while men were drowned, out there in a storm”(p.201). She does not want to change his bias, even though she reads and thinks privately, wishing that the harmony of their marriage will not be spoiled. The loss of either partner in such a union therefore means the total collapse of harmony. This is found when Mrs. Ramsay dies suddenly, Mr. Ramsay often repeats ‘Perished’ and ‘Alone’ to express his missing of Mrs. Ramsay. The living husband loses balance in life and the androgyny in marriage is also lost.
2.3.3 Androgyny realized at the dinner party The male characters, representing the cold truthfulness, sometimes need the femininity to balance their extremities. Mrs. Ramsay’s androgynous mind not only acts on her children and her husband, but also affects the masculinities of Charles Tansley and William Bankes. Her ability to create an androgynous equilibrium is further demonstrated in the dinner party .
The formal dinner party described in Section 17 of Part I can be regarded as a focus of the novel, for it is a grand occasion. Almost all the family members and friends of the Ramsays are present. Their friends include William Bankes, Charles Tansley, Lily Briscoe, Mr. Carmichael, Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle. Mrs. Ramsay is eager to create an amicable atmosphere during the dinner, but she is confronted with the masculine stubbornness of the men who are uncooperative and hostile in such an environment delicately arranged by Mrs. Ramsay. At first, the dinner party is threatened by the egoism of the men. The guests are indifferent or aggressive to each other and they all sit separate. Even William Bankes loses his previous rapture for Mrs. Ramsay: “Yet now, at this moment her presence meant absolutely nothing to him: her beauty meant nothing to him; her sitting with her little boy at the window — nothing, nothing”, and he “felt uncomfortable”(p.75). He thinks that it is a waste of time to be present at the dinner. Compared with his work, the dinner appears to be so boring and trifling. Tansley, disturbed by his social inferiority, feels very rough and isolated and lonely. Mr. Ramsay is “sitting down, all in a heap, frowning” (p.78). Lily and Tansley are mutually irritated by each other. In fact, Tansley is “not going to talk the sort of rot these condescended to by these silly women” (p.82) when Lily askes if he writes many letters. Lily considers Tansley “the most uncharming human being she had ever met”. Faced with such a dull situation, Mrs. Ramsay senses her mission to reconcile the present hostility: “Nothing seemed to have merged. They all sat separate. And the whole of the effort of merging and flowing and creating rested on her. Again she felt, as a fact without hostility, the sterility of men” (p.79). In her eyes, men are not gifted with the ability to improve the present situation while women are gifted to create harmonies in life. Then Mrs. Ramsay plays a role as the mediator to make the dinner androgynous — with the male and female mixing well in accord. She first breaks the silence and starts a conversation with William Bankes to show her sympathy and care, “Did you find your letters? I told them to put them in the hall for you,” (Ibid.) for she knows he has no wife and children, and always dines alone. In addition to the needed words, Mrs. Ramsay bends herself in his direction to the poor man to melt the
coldness and loneliness inside him. Although Bankes responds to her with something unvalued, the disagreeable atmosphere is improved, which confirms Mrs. Ramsay. Then she turns to Tansley who feels inferior before the public and stays in a corner, “Do you write many letters, Mr Tansley?”(Ibid.) Her warm words can not absorb Tansley nor dissolve the confrontation between Lily and him. Thus Mrs. Ramsay feels her own power is limited and the aid of Lily is needed. The significant role performed by Lily should not be overlooked here and she aids Mrs. Ramsay to realize the androgyny at the dinner. Lily, as a sensitive artist, notices Tansley’s discomfort in front of the table and Mrs. Ramsay worries of the disharmony in the dinner. The plea of her help is obvious in Mrs. Ramsay’s eyes. Originally Lily is quite hostile to Tansley, for he once remarked that “[women] can’t paint, women can’t write”, which offends her very much (p.48). Even so, she finally decides to rescue Mrs. Ramsay’s party by playing the usual trick of being nice to him and says to Tansley that “do take me to the Lighthouse with you. I should so love it” (p.86), which melts his hostile attitude Although Lily says so against her own will, her femininity still acts upon the cold and hostile masculinity of Tansley. Noticing her show of friendship now, he is relieved of his egotism and tells her some of his interesting anecdotes when he was a child. The discord between them is dissolved and the harmony appears again. By the end of the dinner, all the egotistic men enjoy themselves: Mr. Bankes is satisfied by the food, Tansley is pacified by Lily, Mr. Ramsay is attracted by the glow of Minta and is reciting the poem “Come out and climb the garden path … ” Again, the separate worlds are united and a sense of androgyny is found in this dinner gathering and it owes much to Mrs. Ramsay’s androgynous mind, although partially to Lily’s cooperation.
2.4 The gradual realization of Lily’s Androgyny
Lily’s androgyny is different from that of Mrs. Ramsay. Mrs. Ramsay’s attempt to sustain androgyny to the environment, which is a fusion of the male and the female,
requires the cooperation of two sexes. However, Lily craves for a more ideal androgyny which is realized within oneself by absorbing the useful masculinine and feminine qualities respectively from Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Before reaching this new type of androgyny, Lily undergoes an enduring and agonizing process to overcome the traditional power to realize her dreams. In this section, we will study Lily’s androgyny in a chronological order in the following three subsections.
2.4.1 The influence of Mrs. Ramsay and Lily’s puzzlement In Part I “The Window”, Lily is under the huge influence of Mrs. Ramsay so much that she even imagines ‘sitting on the floor with her arms round Mrs Ramsay’s knees’(p. 79) to listen to her stories. The tremendous femininity and irresistible charm of Mrs. Ramsay cause Lily’s inner discord, for on the one hand, she is fascinated by Mrs. Ramsay’s attractive appearance and femininity; on the other hand, she does not want to be confined to Mrs. Ramsay’s belief in life. Therefore, Lily falls into paradox, dilemma and puzzlement from the very beginning of the novel. In Lily’s eyes, Mrs. Ramsay’s lifetime profession is to work for the harmony of the family and she considers that marriage is very important, “[women] all must marry, … an unmarried woman has missed the best of life” (p.49). Marriage and children preoccupy Mrs. Ramsay and she is not given any other chance to demonstrate her capability. For herself, Lily dreams to be an artist. But there is a different world opening up to Lily. Before she can manage a balanced control of it, she suffers from the dichotomy between submission to conventionality and the actualization of her own free will. She is unable to maintain a balance within herself. Mrs. Ramsay exerts her power and influence on Lily at the dinner where Lily is being nice to Tansley, though one may say that Lily’s change of attitude is partly due to her admiration for Mrs. Ramsay. Lily really does not want Mrs. Ramsay disappointed since the dinner is so important for this old woman. She is fascinated by the femininity and charm of the old woman and knows that she is inadequate in capability in comparison to Mrs. Ramsay:
[Mrs. Ramsay] is irresistible. Always she got her own way in the end, Lily thought. Now she had brought this off —Paul and Minta, one might suppose, were engaged, Mr. Bankes was dining here. She put a spell on them all, by wishing, so simply, so directly; and Lily contrasted that abundance with her own poverty of spirit … (p.94)
Lily is not yet prepared for a genuine androgynous balance realized within her mind. She observes Mrs. Ramsay’s power over everybody including herself. As a result, she is moved by Mrs. Ramsay, and helps Mrs. Ramsay to achieve the harmony in the dinner. The importance of marriage favored by Mrs. Ramsay harasses and puzzles Lily who thus wants to gather
a desperate courage she would urge her own exemption from the universal law; plead for it; she liked to be alone; she liked to be herself; she was not made for that ; and so have to meet a serious stare from eyes of unparalleled depth, and confront Mrs. Ramsay’s simple certainty … that her dear Lily, her little Brisk, was a fool. ( p.50) The courage to act against convention lurks deep inside Lily’s heart. Although such a courage seems feeble, Lily’s determination to lead a life under her own control is explicit. She even makes up her mind that she would never marry in the very beginning of the story. Ten years later, she still keeps single. Lily does not want to lead an extreme feminine life as Mrs. Ramsay does, nor to reconcile herself to serving a man, sacrificing her work. At the stage, Lily loses the balance between her feminine inheritance and masculine aggression to become an artist. She likes painting because it interests her, so she rejects the necessity that woman must marry. To Lily, Marriage is a burden that handicaps her will to be free from the traditional constraints of being wife or mother to attain a private career. Without the burden of marriage, she is able to maintain her subjectivity and realize her internal balance so as to “weigh all of life equally” (p. 70) and keep in her art the balanced reconciliation of fact and vision. However, every time when she catches the vision of the harmonious Ramsay couple, her ideal androgyny floats away from her:
“And suddenly the meaning which, for no reason at all, as perhaps they are stepping out of the Tube or ringing a doorbell, descends on people, making them symbolical, making them representative, came upon them, and made them in the dusk standing, looking, the symbols of marriage, husband and wife. Then, after an instant, the symbolical outline which transcended the real figures sank down again, and they became, as they met them, Mr and Mrs Ramsay watching the children throwing catches.”(p. 110)
If we claim that Mrs. Ramsay creates the vision in life and makes time “stand still” in her marriage, then Lily attempts to create the same vision in her art, which can be considered as a combination of Mrs. Ramsay’s pervasiveness and Mr. Ramsay’s precision. As she approaches her canvas, Lily recognizes that the problem is “how to connect this mass on the right hand with that on the left”(p.82). Though the problem is easily stated, the solution is not yet. To create her androgyny is an overwhelmingly difficult task. Lily knows that she cannot achieve it by accepting the common vision of marriage that Mrs. Ramsay offers her. In fact, Lily can discern a promising future if only she can assert her independence, casting off the feminine extremity and the influence imposed by Mrs. Ramsay and the masculine suppression of a woman’s art represented by Charles Tansley — “it would never be seen; never be hung even … Women can’t paint, women can’t write” (p.48). Near the end of Part I, Lily visualizes her optimistic view towards future life: “Her world was changing … All must be in order. She must get that right and that right” (p.104). Lily knows that change is inevitable. She has the potential, the courage, and the will to initiate that change towards androgyny. Yet, it is not a comfortable journey. By the end of “The Window”, Lily decides that the design of her picture should maintain a kind of balance by moving the tree to the middle of the canvas. Such a decision symbolizes the balanced state of androgyny that Lily wishes to express at that time. Lily’s picture holds an important place in the novel since it expresses Lily’s inner world and serves as realization of androgyny celebrated in an art form which is everlasting. Yet, Lily takes ten years to complete her picture.
2.4.2 The arduous journey to androgyny Lily’s journey to obtain androgyny is long and tormenting. The sudden death of Mrs. Ramsay is a great blow not only to the Ramsays; Lily also feels the loss. Ten years later, the Ramsays and friends return to the house again. There are the deaths of Mrs. Ramsay and two of her children — Prue and Andrew. Lily returns too, but her picture is not yet completed. During the time lapse, the house is not filled, nor is Lily’s canvas. The loss of Mrs. Ramsay suggests a loss of balance among the Ramsays and their friends. They all suffer from the emptiness of life: Mr. Ramsay keeps on repeating ‘Perished’ and ‘Alone’ to express his missing of her wife; Lily’s tears ‘ran down her face’ when she said aloud ‘Mrs. Ramsay’. Alex Zwerdling(1986) views Lily’s attainment of androgyny as a “bildungsroman” , Lily grows gradually and changes finally. Her growth is now gained by overcoming the disturbing feminine and masculine extremities she suffers in Part I. Lily learns from the extremities and keeps them in balance. Lily is the principal living female in Part III. With the loss of his wife, Mr. Ramsay has no one to turn to –asking for sympathy or consolation. This extreme masculine figure turns to Lily. Lily reserves her emotions: “‘What beautiful boots!’ she exclaimed … To praise his boots when he asked her to solace his soul!” (p.144). To avoid involving in a conflict of two sexes, she knows she can not give him more than that. Confounding Lily’s expectation, Mr. Ramsay is quite satisfied with the feminine gentleness Lily offers. He feels so consoled and glad that “three times he knotted her shoe; three times he unknotted it” (Ibid.). The scene ends with a more harmonious vision than Lily can imagine. Lily preserves her integrity and pleases Mr. Ramsay simultaneously. The relationship between these two opposite sexes also forms an androgyny. Meanwhile Lily must overcome the influences of Mrs. Ramsay. The memory of Mrs. Ramsay still lingers in Lily’s mind in Part III. Mrs. Ramsay’s belief about marriage ever disturbs Lily. She is now forty-four years old, unmarried. By telling the failure of Rayley’s marriage which is matched by Mrs. Ramsay, Lily further asserts her decision of keeping her autonomy. Both the Rayley’s and the Ramsay’s marriages cripple the union of two sexes with the absence of one of the union. Paul Rayley
meets other girls and Mrs. Ramsay dies. “Mrs. Ramsay has faded and gone … We can over-ride her wishes, improve away her limited, old-fashioned ideas” (p.162). Lily feels she has triumphed over Mrs. Ramsay in the attitude toward marriage. In the end, Lily finds that “[life] has changed completely” (Ibid.) and Mrs. Ramsay’s faith in marriage is not the sole form of androgyny. Although Lily has already found the negative effect of Mrs. Ramsay and wants to break through it, Mrs. Ramsay’s positive effect is essential in leading to the final vision gained by Lily, who presumes a mother-daughter relationship with Mrs. Ramsay. Mrs. Ramsay’s attibution is to provide Lily a model of life. Mrs. Ramsay has the power “[to resolve] everything into simplicity”, to make something out which “[survives], all these years, complete” (p.150), which Lily wishes to incorporate in her picture so that it maintains permanent.
2.4.3 The final attainment of Lily’s androgyny In Part III “The Lighthouse”, Lily returns to complete the picture. She attempts to capture her memories of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and to combine them in the painting. She has exchanged the fluidity of life for the concentration of painting. However, Lily finds herself at first caught up in one of those habitual currents, as if Mrs. Ramsay is in front of her, she falls into a kind of “trance”. Words and impressions rise up involuntarily in her mind. After some internal struggles against the habitual power, Lily finally comes “to the surface” (p.274) and her spirit returns the original point of the dreams. Her desire to find and express a kind of unity and self-sufficiency dominates her mind again:
What art was there, known to love or cunning, by which one pressed through into those secret chambers? What device for becoming, like waters poured into one jar, inextricably the same, one with the object one adored? Could the body achieve, or the mind, subtly mingling in the intricate passages of the brain? or the heart? (p. 282) She hopes to find a way to inherit the androgynous capability of Mrs. Ramsay and the egoism of Mr. Ramsay, to blend them in herself and express them in her painting.
In Part III, although Lily herself has not gone with the Ramsays to the lighthouse, spiritually she accompanies them to experience the voyage. Mr. Ramsay begins the voyage which he formerly denied, reminding himself even as he journeys toward death. As he gathers his reluctant children James and Cam, forcing them to undertake a voyage they no longer want, Lily sees the coercion and remembers the continual sacrifices Mrs. Ramsay made for her husband. However after the voyage to the lighthouse, everyone’s view changes: James finds that it tells him something about his character, a manliness that he shares with his father with whom he now feels at ease; Cam feels safe with her father and able to allow her mind to wander, to enjoy herself inventing stories as her mother used to do; Mr. Ramsay praises James for his handling of the boat, and the praise is what James dreams for many years. The Ramsays reaches a harmonious and androgynous life again after the passing away of Mrs. Ramsay, which Lily shares spiritually. As the Ramsays reach their destination, Lily also stares into the distance where the lighthouse melts “away into a blue haze”. She says aloud “He (Mr. Ramsay) must have reached it!” Suddenly she feels the androgynous spirit the Ramsays reach, and finds the way to abstract the masculine spirit from Mr. Ramsay and integrate it with the androgyny of Mrs. Ramsay. Then Lily paints her picture “with all its green and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something” (p.302). She no longer cares for the masculine extremity that belittles woman’s ability. Lily attains her independence with the help of her artistic creativity. By drawing a line in the middle of her canvas, which she pursues psychologically for so long time, Lily feels triumphant, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue “it was finished … I have had my vision” (p.310). She gets her androgyny at last, which suffices her.
Mrs. Ramsay accomplishes her androgyny in the family and her social circle while her relatives and friends enjoy this androgyny she strives for all along. However, as a traditional woman of Victorian times, her views of the role of women is limited and
only confined to marriage, children and household, furthest to the friends gathering party. She is an artist in life, attaining the harmony in her everyday life while what Lily thinks and does is beyond her views. Additionally, Mrs. Ramsay’s androgyny relies too much on her self-sacrifice and the cooperation of the environment. The androgyny shared by her children, her husband and friends seems passive and lack of activity. Once Mrs. Ramsay dies, the androgyny is also lost at the same time. Lily’s androgyny is realized within her mind and expressed in her painting. Her courage to challenge the traditional living way of Victorian women should be ascertained as well as the balance she creates within herself after her struggles. The priority of the androgyny she attains is that it doesn’t need the participation and cooperation of the opposite sexes and avoid some conflicts due to the misunderstanding of the two sexes. Her androgyny meets Woolf’s androgynous idea perfectly: “one must be woman-manly or man-womanly” when writing or doing other creations. In this sense, Lily’s androgyny is more ideal and spiritual, for she accomplishes it by absorbing the masculine aggression in career and the feminine sensitivity in harmony within herself. Mrs. Ramsay’s androgyny is contrastively physical, inferior and only confined to a limited scope of life, although she provides a stereotype for Lily, who develops upon it and steps beyond it. In the views of feminism, Lily’s androgyny is more favored by modern individuals for her selfconsciousness, self-liberation, and self-accomplishment.
Chapter 3 Symbolic Expressions of Feminism in To the Lighthouse
In this chapter, the feministic spirits of Mr. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe are respectively examined and studied mainly by the application of the analytical and statistical means of lexical frequency. Such key words are considered as “fine” weather, “short-sighted”, “sea”, “tree”, and the color “purple” and “green”. By this means, an inkling of some feministic spirits is found in Mrs. Ramsay, a housewife in late Victorian times, meanwhile some indispensable contrasts have been made between Mrs. Ramsay and her husband to reinforce some positive qualities in Mrs. Ramsay. The same lexical means is applied in the study of Lily Briscoe to show that Lily Briscoe as the representative of a new generation, embodies such spirits of feminism as independence, self-identity more thoroughly than Mrs. Ramsay does. Additionally, for a profound comprehension of the feminism in Lily, the evolvement of her self is analyzed in detail in Section 3.4 and 3.5 of this chapter.
3.1 The “fine” weather and Mrs. Ramsay’s optimism
The word “fine” has appeared for seventeen times in the novel To the Lighthouse. Twelve of them appear in Part I “the Window” and are used to discuss if the weather of that evening or the next day is fine or not. A fine weather on the next day is very important to James, the little son of the Ramsays, for he had longed to go to the lighthouse ever since he was six years old. If the weather is fine tomorrow, he will certainly go to the lighthouse as his mother said “Yes, of course, if it’s fine tomorrow”. However Mr. Ramsay intrudes into their blissful solitude with “But … it won’t be fine” (p.10), for he insists that his children should know the difficulties of life and uncompromising nature of facts. These cold words dash James’ hope, destroy the bliss of the son and the mother who plan an excursion in their mind, and render Mrs. Ramsay in silence. However the silence only occupies Mrs. Ramsay for a short time. She is not
frustrated by her husband internally while still encouraging James that there may be hope some day: “Perhaps it will be fine tomorrow,” she said, smoothing his hair … .. “And even if it isn’t fine tomorrow,” …. “it will be another day … ” … . No, not tomorrow, she said, but soon, she promised him; the next fine day. (p.12) She promises James to go to the lighthouse the next fine day. To go to the lighthouse is the dream of James, and it also can be regarded as a goal in one’s life. As a mother, Mrs. Ramsay always hopes that her children embrace some positive prospects toward life, favors them to realize those dreams and never wants to destroy the dreams which she raised in their minds. For this reason, she is resentful to her husband for his behavior of dashing children’s hopes with an astonishing lack of consideration for other people’s feeling. In her eyes, life is “fine” and she also wants her children to hold such fine views toward life in spite of Mr. Ramsay’s pessimistic and cold attitude toward life. The constant encouragements of Mrs. Ramsay to James demonstrate her maternal love, her optimistic attitude toward life as well as her silent opposing of the patriarchy from Mr. Ramsay. At the same time, the frequent use of the word “fine” in Part I of the novel hints the importance of a fine weather for the author who lived in the foggy city of London when she was a child. We may find some traces of young Virginia in little James. The attitudes that Mrs. Ramsay holds towards children and life also reflects the author’s corresponding feminist views in life.
3.2 “Short-sighted” Mrs. Ramsay and her keen insight
Mrs. Ramsay is often referred to as short-sighted. In fact, the word “short-sighted” has been repeated for four times in the story, each of them directly related with Mrs. Ramsay. For example, “craning forwards, for she was short-sighted, she read it out ...” (p.21); Mrs. Ramsay “fixing her short-sighted eyes upon her husband”(p.56); in Chapter 12 of Part I, she also “focussed her short-sighted eyes”(p.109) upon Lily Briscoe and William Bankes who stroll together; in Chapter 3 of Part III, it mentions
“Mrs. Ramsay sat down and wrote letters by a rock. … She was so short-sighted that she could not see … ”(p.258) All these show that Mrs. Ramsay is short-sighted. The stress of Mrs. Ramsay’s shortsightedness, on the one hand, aims to show us that Mrs. Ramsay can read and write, and she has already been equipped as any man with the fundamental capacity to fight for existing as an individual. She has already been distinctive with those Victorian housewives in the traditional sense. On the other hand, it characterizes that Mrs. Ramsay desires to shorten the distance between her and those surrounding things which interest her. She wants to be involved in them and hold the right to deal with them. Furthermore, such physical deficiency of her sight forms a sharp contrast with her sufficient psychological activities the keen insight as evidenced below. Her insight comes when she is free from any roles placed on her, especially as a mother. For example, she feels relieved when little James goes to bed for she knows that James will remember for all his life how his hopes of going to the lighthouse was dashed. James’ falling asleep makes her feel relieved for a short time, then “she could be herself, by herself” (p.95) again. Free of any demands upon her actions, Mrs. Ramsay finally falls into silence and solitude:
all the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.(p. 95) She can see her self in the darkness and compare it to “a wedge-shaped core of darkness”. Although this analogy is tinted with some pessimistic color, Mrs. Ramsay strides forward further than most of her contemporary housewives of Victorian times in attaining her self-consciousness and self-identity. Unlike her husband, she can see the light behind the darkness and can see her peaceful and solemn self in the darkness--- the core of one’s identity that escapes all roles playing. On the contrary, Mr. Ramsay is always referred to as “long-sighted”. However he never, at least not until the end of the story, relinquishes his hold on an objective and
factual view of the world. He thus bases his whole self-estimate on his mind’s ability to traverse thought as if it traversed the alphabet. He feels that he cannot get beyond Q; R eludes him. Unlike Mrs. Ramsay, who sees her self in darkness, Mr. Ramsay in the darkness sees nothing, and only hears people saying “he was a failure---that R was beyond him. He would never reach R”(p.54). If he becomes submerged into emotional darkness, severe self-doubt besieges him; and this forces him to demand sympathy from his wife. That is, Mr. Ramsay is “a man afraid to own his own feeling” (p.70). In other words, he is afraid of his self when he is in darkness, which further demonstrates the strong and tenacious self under Mrs. Ramsay’s tenderly feminine appearance.
3.3 The “sea” and the self
The word “sea” has appeared 36 times in the novel and most of them are directly related with attitudes Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay hold towards the self. The sea usually can be regarded as the difficulty and suffering in one’s life. However, the Ramsays have different perceptions of it. When Mr. Ramsay stands on a split of land looking out at the water, he sees ‘the dark of human ignorance, how we know nothing and the sea eats away the ground we stand on — that was his fate, his gift”(p.68). He projects all his fears about his own intellectual incompetence and failure onto the sea. Mrs. Ramsay has contrary attitudes toward the sea. Unlike her husband, who fears the sea, she enjoys the sea, gets comforts from the sea, although sometimes she has a little fear about the sea when the repeated sound of the waves is falling on the beach:
for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts and seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again as she sat with the children the words of some old cradle song, murmured by nature, “I am guarding you — I am your support,” at other times suddenly and unexpectedly, especially when her mind raised itself slightly from the task actually in hand, had no such kindly meaning, but like a ghostly roll of drums remorselessly beat the measure of life. (p.27)
Her ambibalent attitudes toward the sea enjoying most part of the “measured” and “soothing” beats of the waves, and fearing the appearance of those sudden and unexpected beats, reflect her two identities: the conscious one of her social role and the unconscious one of her self. She fears that the first identity would overpower the second one, like “ … the destruction of the island and its engulfment in the sea … ” (p.27). Knowing that her self exists, but afraid that her role as mother would engulf it, Mrs. Ramsay tenaciously holds on to her privacy. Thus she objects to Charles Tansley’s carrying her bag on their trip to the town, and insists that the windows remain open, through which she can see outside, but the doors stay shut, so that no one could intrude upon the privacy of her soul. Only by keeping that privacy, can Mrs. Ramsay attain the freedom and peace to see her self. When she frees her self from all role expectations, she can meet her real self: “she looked out to meet that stroke of the lighthouse (in the sea), the long steady stroke, the last of the three, which was her stroke” (p.96).
3.4 Lily Briscoe and her indecisive self in Part I “the Window”
In Part I of the novel, “the Window”, Lily Briscoe’s mind lingers between the two sexes. The femininity of Mrs. Ramsay catches her when she is sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around Mrs. Ramsay’s knees aiming to get Mrs. Ramsay’s knowledge of life. However, she does not want to have a marriage life as Mrs. Ramsay insists all along. The willfulness, the high-handedness and the lack of rationality in Mrs. Ramsay also keeps her at a respectful distance. Lily appreciates the rationality and the ambition in such masculinities as Mr. Ramsay, Charles Tansley and et al. Their egocentricities nevertheless estrange her. She is also enraged by Charles Tansley’s disparaging statement that “women can’t write, women can’t paint” (p.130). From the very beginning of the story, Lily falls into the dilemma and embarks on explorations of her self-identity. Lily’s inner conflicts are obviously manifested in the dinner in Section 17 of Part I, between what she wants for herself as a human being and what the world expects of
her as a woman. She resents the “code of behavior” by which “it behaves the woman, whatever her own occupation might be, to go to the help of the young man opposite so that he may expose and relieve … his vanity, … his urgent desire to assert himself”(p.137). However she abides by this code in response to Mrs. Ramsay’s plea, only delivered by a glance, that Lily helps her to soothe and support the male ego. Unlike Minta Doyle, who appeals to Mr. Ramsay by making herself “more ignorant than she was, because he liked telling her she was a fool” (p.148), Lily resents the insincerity through which man and woman relate. This insincerity, which Lily views as unavoidable, makes her thankful that “she need not marry … she need not undergo that degradation.”(p.154). Lily imagines that she has to sacrifice her identity in order to relate to a man. But she chooses to keep quiet. What she sticks to in Part I “the Window” is realized in Part III “the Lighthouse” and resolves her inner conflicts. In fact, in “the Window”, Lily always wonders about how to make the connection: “It was a question, she remembered, how to connect this mass on the right hand with that on the left” (p.82). The right, denoting the conscious mind, rationality, light; while the left, denoting the unconscious mind, spirituality, darkness, two sides comprise the essential complements of psychic wholeness: male and female. Lily realizes that she must unite these factors, but not until “the Lighthouse”, could she accomplish it. When she is in the dinner, she is just thinking of this matter and still does not know how to unite these factors. When she successfully integrates these factors, she not only realizes her very self but also the androgyny as we mentioned in the previous chapter of this thesis. The next section would give the details of Lily’s accomplishment.
3.5 Lily Briscoe and her self attainment in Part III “the Lighthouse”
The Part III “the Lighthouse” of the novel depicts the trip to the lighthouse. Though Lily does not physically accompany Mr. Ramsay, Cam, and James on the trip, she psychologically does. As a result, she experiences a major transformation: the Part III begins with Lily’s wondering, “what did she feel, come back after all these years and
Mrs. Ramsay dead? Nothing, nothing---nothing that she could express at all” (p. 217); however it ends with Lily’s intense vision of wholeness. The emptiness she initially feels reflects the absence of the self which is caused by the death of Mrs. Ramsay. The vision at the end of the story comes from Lily’s insight into the way to integrate different factors which are represented by the left and right mentioned in the last section. Before she obtains that insight, she suffers from a sense of psychic separation of the left and right, which robs her of emotion. Besides Lily, the other people in “the Lighthouse” also suffer from emptiness and loneliness. For instance, Mr. Ramsay suffers enormously from loneliness. He keeps repeating “Perished” and “Alone” (p.219), words from William Cowper’s “the Castaway”(1962)
No voice divine the storm allayed, No light propitious shone, When, snatched from all effectual aid, We perished, each alone; But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelmed in a deeper gulf than he.(p.101) Obviously Mr. Ramsay recites the poem is to express his aloneness, loneness and great need of Mrs. Ramsay since she perished. Everyone misses and needs Mrs. Ramsay, which indicates the important role that women play in the family and society. It often happens that only when a man loses a woman can he feel the indispensable role of female. Feeling lonely, Mr. Ramsay desires the need of sympathy. When he stops Lily, who is sitting on the lawn in front of her easel, “he seemed to be saying, looked at me; and indeed, all the time he was feeling, think of me, think of me”.(p.227). And Lily can not respond to his need, for her dominant ego regards a gesture of sympathy as a surrender of her entire self (p.226). So the more Mr. Ramsay pours out his self-pity, the more Lily draws “her skirts a little closer around her ankles, lest she should get wet” (p.228). Finally she can not tolerate Mr. Ramsay any longer and claims “What beautiful boots!” (p.229). She breaks through the ordinary idea at that time that
women should subordinate to men. Though she feels shame that she could only “praise his boots when he asked her to solace his soul”, she nevertheless begins to bridge the separation between the left and the right, which is mentioned in the end of last section. Mr. Ramsay smiles, and Lily’s heart warms toward him. His pride disappears and he drops his knees and three times knots Lily’s shoes to demonstrate his own perfect knotting technique. Mr. Ramsay’s tying Lily’s shoes recalls an immediate comparison that how Mrs. Ramsay reveres her husband and she feels herself “not good enough to tie his shoe strings” (p.51). This trivial thing also reveals that Lily is not a traditional woman as Mrs. Ramsay any more, she has already found her way to strive for the equality of women in the male dominated society. In the rest of “the Lighthouse”, the actions, thoughts, and the accomplishments of Lily mix with those of Mr. Ramsay, Cam, and James. She sits on the lawn considering how to finish her painting while the other three are sailing to the lighthouse. Virginia Woolf writes in her diary that she intended “a combination of interest” between Lily and Mr. Ramsay(Woolf, 1953: p.11). This “combination of interest” is shown in the way that Mr. Ramsay functions as part of Lily. He represents the masculine voice inside Lily that constantly tortures her with the declaration that women cannot paint or write. These words puzzles her often even in the last part of the novel which expresses her own self-doubts. She has accepted the masculine attitude toward women held by Mr. Tansley and Mr. Ramsay, the latter “liked men to work … and women to keep house, and sit beside sleeping children indoors, while men were drowned, out there in a storm” (p.245). Lily consciously rejects such a patriarchic attitude and sexual discrimination, but it still creates doubts in her unconscious ness. When she tries to paint, the force “emerged stark at the back of appearances and commanded her attention.” This force “roused one to perpetual combat, challenged one to a fight in which one was bound to be worsted” (p.236). Whenever these doubts come, Lily feels that her painting surely “would be rolled up and stuffed under a sofa. … and she heard some voice saying that she couldn’t paint, saying she couldn’t create” (p.237). Lily must conquer this destructive voice, otherwise, her painting will remain unfinished for ever. However she knows that she cannot fight the force with
aggression but by accepting it. Lily repeatedly turns her glance toward the sea, watching the sailboat draws closer to the lighthouse. The more she can accept Mr. Ramsay’s existence, the clearer her artistic vision of wholeness becomes. Lily knows that she must paint in order to complete her work; she knows that she must combine opposites, the feminine, or herself, with the masculine. When Lily can accept the masculine, she will find the means to fill the space that separates the opposites within her. Then the androgyny and the self would be realized. With these ideas in mind, Lily senses that Mr. Ramsay has landed at the rock and she finally reaches her self “with a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished” (p.310).
3.6 “Tree” in Lily’s painting
The word “tree” or “trees” appears 47 times in the whole text, and most of them are directly related to Lily’s thought on her painting. In many poems or novels, the tree is the symbol of patronage. In this novel, it can be viewed as the paternal power in a male dominated society. Lily has been wondering where she should put the tree in her painting. At first, she decides to “put the tree further in the middle” (p.132). This idea reappears at the dinner as she is annoyed by Charles Tanesley’s statement that “women can’t write, women can’t paint” (p.134), for she can not yet free herself from the pressure of the society at that time. In fact, she can feel the unspoken pressure from Mrs. Ramsay who demands that ‘say something nice to that young man there”. She takes refuge by pondering her painting, by thinking where she should put the tree. She identifies with the tree as a natural and unifying sign of an old-ordered society that man should always be in the center of the society. She maintains the status quo unconsciously for she is unconsciously subject to the light of Mr. Ramsay’s solar intellect and power: “she[Lily] could feel his mind like a raised hand shadowing her mind; and he was beginning now that her thoughts took a turn he disliked-towards this ‘pessimism’ as he called it –to fidget”(p.189).
However Lily always hesitates if she should put the tree in the middle, she always feels puzzled: “In a flash she saw her picture, and thought, Yes, I shall put the tree further in the middle; then I shall avoid that awkward space. That’s what I shall do. That’s what has been puzzling me” (p.201). Her puzzle of where to put the tree shows her unconscious struggle for independence. After she made her decision to put the tree in the middle, “her spirits rose so high at the thought of painting tomorrow that she laughed aloud at what Mr. Tansley was saying” (Ibid.). Yes, at this time she has freed herself from Mr. Tansley’s stupid idea that “women can’t write, women can’t paint”. Anyway, she dares to draw her painting and laugh aloud at what Mr. Tansley was saying. When Lily comes back to her unfinished painting ten years later, she feels that the picture “had been knocking about in her mind all these years”. In fact it is not the problem of how to draw the picture that puzzled her all these years, but the problem of female independence, liberty, equality, and self-confidence. When Lily recalls her earlier resolution to “move the tree to the middle, and need never marry anybody”, which suggests her silent opposing against Mrs. Ramsay and her striving for the independence, “she had felt, now she could stand up to Mrs. Ramsay--- a tribute to the astonishing power that Mrs. Ramsay had over one. Do this, she said and one did it. Even her shadow at the window with James was full of authority” (p.271). Here Lily realizes that Mrs. Ramsay, oppressed and overshadowed by patriarchy, nevertheless, perpetuates its values: her “Do this” is a repetition of Mr. Ramsay’s “Do this” recalled by Cam; and Lily seems to paint to defy this. Her previous idea to center the tree seems impossible now, for she discovers ‘the whole wave and whisper of the garden became … round a centre of complete emptiness” (p.275). The gap left by the departed Mrs. Ramsay suggests the loss of protection and safety Lily unconsciously feels: “Was there no safety? … No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air?”(p.277). The overwhelming desire to fill the gap forces Lily to break her silence with a tearful invocation of Mrs. Ramsay. At last, Lily draws “a line there, in the centre” (p.310); the tree has vanished. This shows the great progress Lily has made in achieving her independence, and it also can
be interpreted that women should be able to achieve their independence and equality after struggle.
Colors are universal and different colors have been associated with different spiritual meanings. The colors people chose are not arbitrary, but are deliberately, selected and hold personal meaning. Colors can influence one’s emotion and the way that he/she behaves. Such colors as purple and green have been repeatedly used in the novel to show how the feministic spirits in Mrs. Ramsay and Lily are embodied by colors.
3.7.1 Purple/Violet The word “purple” or “violet” has appeared twenty times in the novel which shows the author’s emphasis on the purple color. In the western culture, purple or violet is the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Violet is a combination of blue and red, in which red is a dynamic and active color while blue is cooling and calming. Thus violet brings a new sense to the active red and calming blue. If the red and blue are interpreted respectively as the male and female, the purple or violet then is the combination of the two---the androgynous spirit that Lily pursues. At the same time, purple is the color most favored by women and artists which indicates their seeking of spiritual fulfillments. This is why such colors have appeared twenty times in the novel. Lily’s transformative vision is evidently shown in her first painting where she depicts Mrs. Ramsay and her son as a “triangular purple shape”. Here, the “wedgeshaped core of darkness” turns purple under Lily’s brush. The “darkness” refers to the masculine, while the “purple” contains the above mentioned spirituality. Although an inkling of some feministic spirits is embodied in Mrs. Ramsay, she still keeps a conservative attitude when she feels she is like a “wedge-shaped core of darkness”.
Compared with the pessimistic attitude Mrs. Ramsay holds toward her self or the female, the purple color under Lily’s brush represents Lily’s confidence in her self and the female. Lily attempts to produce her art in a masculine environment and she finds the presence of William Bankes is more tolerable than that of Mr. Ramsay who “almost knocked her easel over”(p. 32) when she wants to create. But William still forces her to take her eyes off the picture:
The jacmanna was bright violet; the wall staring white. She would not have considered it honest to tamper with the bright violet and the staring white, since she saw them like that, fashionable though it was, since Mr. Paunceforte’s visit, to see everything pale, elegant, semitransparent. Then beneath the colour there was the shape. She could see it all so clearly, so commandingly, when she looked: it was when she took her brush in hand that the whole thing changed. It was in that moment’s flight between the picture and her canvas that the demons set on her who often brought her to the verge of tears and made this passage from conception to work as dreadful as any down a dark passage for a child. Such she often felt herself —struggling against terrific odds to maintain her courage; to say: “But this is what I see; this is what I see,” and so to clasp some miserable remnant of her vision to her breast, which a thousand forces did their best to pluck from her. (p. 34)
Lily’s vision arises from a process of artistic tension. She thinks about the childbirth which is the traditional function of women, then the new possibility of her artistic creativity. Her vision of “bright violet” and ‘staring white” coincides with her struggles for self-expression in a male dominated environment. It is known that the white color represents purity and it symbolizes a virgin when brides wear white in western culture, therefore white is a feminine color too. These colours, violet and white, seem to defy the masculine presences overshadowing her work, and may even offer a glimpse of feminine colors before them. Then the moment comes for the woman artist to fight for the improvement of female positions in the society and Lily continues her painting and creation. Lily is also caught in the conflict of emotional and social subordinations and selfdoubt, then she puts down her brushes to go with Bankes. As she does so, the colors
seem to recede :
“It suddenly gets cold. The sun seems to give less heat,” she said, looking about her, for it was bright enough, the grass still a soft deep green, the house starred in its greenery with purple passion flowers, and rooks dropping cool cries from the high blue. But something moved, flashed, turned a silver wing in the air. It was September after all, the middle of September, and past six in the evening. (p. 35) The range of colors here shows a movement from the flickering glimpse of green and purple to the dark indication of the rooks. The unnamed bird, turning a silver wing in September, may be a swallow, and its silver flash supplies the white of the feministic color together with the purple and green. This also implies a lonely female strving difficultly in a male dominated society.
3.7.2 Green Green is the color of nature, fertility and life. It is also the color of healing, hope, well-being and balance. Green is favored by those well-balanced people. The color “green” has appeared 32 times in the novel which shows that it is a favorite color of the author. When Mrs. Ramsay is “knitting her reddish-brown hairy stocking”, she notices ‘the green shawl which she had tossed over the edge of the frame”, then she takes the “green shawl off the picture frame” and go to her husband “for he wished, she knew, to protect her” (p.51). However the feminine potentialities are far from realized by Mrs. Ramsay herself when she wears the green shawl smoothing a difference with her husband. But Lily notices Mrs. Ramsay wearing the shawl when she catches sight of the Ramsays “in the duck standing, looking, the symbols of marriage, husband and wife” (p.115). Mrs. Ramsay also makes use of the green shawl as a means of harmony when she wraps it around the skull that terrifies her daughter Cam. The shadow of the horrid skull is there because “wherever they put the light (and James could not sleep without a light) there was always a shadow somewhere”(p.176). James wants the light on and
the skull where it is. However Cam is afraid of the shadow of the skull. Mrs. Ramsay’s solution implies that the threat of the shadow of masculine light has been obliterated by a green cover, which potentially suggests a feministic banner. Moreover, green, together with purple and white, further illustrates some characteristic of the feministic spirits in Mrs. Ramsay. For instance, when Mrs. Ramsay notes Lily’s “white puckered … face”, she flings a “green Cashmere shawl over the edge of a picture frame” as she measures up her knitting against James’s leg( p.47). Then the color “purple” appears:
after a flight through the sunshine the wings of a bird fold themselves quietly and the blue of its plumage changes from bright steel to soft purple. She (Mrs. Ramsay) had stood there silent for there was nothing to be said. He had cancer of the throat. (p.48) The man’s cancer seems to stop her voice, as if his patriarchy stops her. Yet into this verbal silence Woolf brings a visual message using oppositional colors, which indicates a change to the darker emotional tone, but which may also indicate a change to feministic colors: from masculine “bright steel” to feminine “soft purple”. The double significations suggest both Mrs. Ramsay’s complicity with patriarchy and her potential to overthrow it. By “squeezing her tube of green paint”(p.226), Lily imagines the triumphant pleasure in informing Mrs. Ramsay of the Rayleys’ failed marriage. The green paint has become endowed with the fantasy of overcoming Mrs. Ramsay. Its possible significance makes the color green appropriate as a mark of defiance against this marriage expected by Mrs. Ramsay, although as a sign, it remains ambiguously linked with Mrs. Ramsay’s green shawl. This ambiguity is reflected in the fact that the feminist Lily brandishing her green paintings, celebrates the passing of Mrs. Ramsay: “We can over-ride her wishes, improve away her limited, old-fashioned ideas” (p. 269). The most important example which shows the role of green color is in the final painting of Lily. At the centre of Lily’s picture, there is no tree, no purple shadow, but
instead, “all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something”. Then Lily drew a line there in the centre and finishes her painting. The line, together with the feministic colors, suggests that she has finally found the feminism she pursues all the years. Another example for the “green” is in the Part III where Cam’s mind “made the green swirls” and she “wandered in imagination in that underworld of waters where the pearls stuck in clusters to white sprays, where in the green light a change came over one’s entire mind and one’s body shone half transparent enveloped in a green cloak” (p.281). Here the green light and green cloak also connect Cam’s thought to her mother’s green shawl over the skull. Cam therefore is a hope in the young generation who may inherit the feministic spirit from Mrs. Ramsay and Lily.
In this chapter, we examine some spirits in Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe from the point of view of feminism other than androgyny which has been explored in the previous chapter. From the demonstrations above, we conclude that, some inklings of feminism have been found in Mrs. Ramsay, a traditional woman of Victorian times, for instance, she has a more optimistic attitude toward life, her family and her self contrasted with her pessimistic husband who is afraid of failure in career and fears to confront with his self in darkness. Mrs. Ramsay’s preferences for the measured beats of the vast sea and the pacification of the green color further show her broad but pacified feminine self. Lily Briscoe, who assumes a mother-daughter relationship with Mrs. Ramsay, represents a new image of woman in the late Victorian times and voices some of Woolf’s feministic calls. Lingering between the traditional power and her striving for self-identity, Lily experiences an enduring internal struggle. Her initial indecision as whether to position the tree in the middle of her canvas or not is replaced by the final disappearance of the tree in the canvas, which hints the change of her attitude toward the patriarchy of that time. The “purple” triangular shape under her brush also
manifests her self-dignity of being a woman. Above all, Lily’s hard striving for her self-accomplishment demonstrates that she embodies more intense and more selfconscious feministic spirits than Mrs. Ramsay does.
Chapter 4 Conclusion
Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse has been carefully studied in this thesis from the points of view of androgyny and feminism respectively. In Chapter one, I have made such necessary preliminaries as the background of Virginia Woolf, brief introduction to her writing career, the novel To the Lighthouse and the origins of the terminologies Androgyny and Feminism, all of which are very helpful for the comprehension of the novel, its author and the subsequent study in the thesis. Chapter two focuses on the two female characters of the novel, Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, and explores the androgynies embodied in them respectively, of which the androgyny of Mrs. Ramsay is examined from three subsections as well as Lily Briscoe’s. The androgyny of Mrs. Ramsay is discovered by studying her relationship with her children, the marriage maintained by her sacrificing effort, and her delicate coordinations in a grand dinner celebrated at her home. The evolution of Lily’s androgyny is studied in a chronological order: her initial puzzlement before Mrs. Ramsay, her sequent hard striving for the attainment of a distinct androgyny she dreams all along, and the final attainment of the androgyny. Although I made separate explorations on the androgynies embodied in these two females, it is not difficult to find that the androgynies they attained characterize different qualities, the former one is more physical, which is realized in a secular circle, while the latter one is more spiritual, which is accomplished in her mind after her hard struggle against the traditional power as well as her conflictive inside. In this sense, Lily’s androgyny has a more positive meaning for her consciousness of self-identity and her striving for the self-accomplishment in a social background of the late Victorian times when women were mostly illiterate and confined to the household. In Chapter three, the same two characters are studied from the point of view of feminism with the aid of statistical means of lexical frequency. Some inklings of feminism are found in Mrs. Ramsay by studying such high frequency words as “fine”
weather, “sea”, “short-sighted” and her “green” shawl: “fine” weather is related to Mrs. Ramsay’s optimism in life when she insists that there would be another fine day for James to go to the lighthouse; “short-sighted” hints her abilities in reading and writing which distinguishes her from other traditional housewives; inclining to the measured beats of the “sea” and preferring to take on the “green” shawl reflect Mrs. Ramsay’s longing for peace and harmony as well as her desire of pacifying others. Some feministic spirits in Lily Briscoe are found by studying the words “tree”, “purple” triangular shape and the process of her self evolvement as well: her initial indecision to position the “tree” in the middle of her canvas hints her timidity before the patriarchy headed by Mr. Ramsay, which is replaced by her final decision of removing the “tree” away from the canvas, signifying the change of her attitude toward patriarchy; the “purple” triangular shape she painted manifests her self-dignity as a woman; additionally, the whole evolvement process of her self indicates the one of Lily’s psychological growth and consummation. From these two women of different ages, we find that some buds of feminism grow out of Mrs. Ramsay and she embodies them unconsciously while the feministic spirits in Lily, such as independence, equality and self-accomplishment, are what Lily strives for a long time, and she accomplishes them more consciously than Mrs. Ramsay does. All inn all, different method of investigation leads to one conclusion, that is, Lily Briscoe embodies a more perfect and ideal personality than Mrs. Ramsay does. Lily Briscoe, as a surrogate of Woolf herself, also embodies what Woolf advocated all along for the women of her time, i.e. women should seek their independence, equality and self-accomplishment. The same perspectives and lexical method could be applied in the study of Woolf’s other works as well.
Bazin, N.T. Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1973. Beauvoir, S. The Second Sex, English edition( first edition in French in 1949), New York: Bantam Books, 1965. Beer, G. Essays in Criticism, London, Granada Publishing, 1984. Bell, Q. Virginia Woolf: a Biography, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Black, N. Virginia Woolf as Feminist, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004. Blackstone, B. Virginia Woolf: a Commentary, London: Hogarth Press, 1972. Booz, E.B. A Brief Introduction to Modern English Literature. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 1984. Bowlby, R. Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. Clements P. and Grundy, I. Virginia Woolf, New Critical Essays, London: Vision Press, 1983. Cowper, W. The Castaway, in M.H. Abrams ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 1, New York: W.W. Norton & co., 1962. Davies, S. Virginia Woolf, London: Penguin, 1989. DiBattattista, M. Virginia Woolf’s Major Novels: the Fables of Anon, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. Fleishman, A. Virginia Woolf: A Critical Reading, Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1975. Friedan, B. The Feminine Mystique, New York: WW. Norton and Company, Inc., 1963. Gillespie, D.F. The Multiple Muses of Virginia Woolf, Columbia : University of Missouri Press, 1993. Goldman, J. The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf: Modernism, PostImpressionism and the Politics of the Visual, Cambridge : U.K., Cambridge
university Press, 1998. Gordon, L. Virginia Woolf: a Writer’s Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984. Gorsky, S.R. Virginia Woolf, London: G. Prior Publishers, 1978. Heilbrun, C.G. Toward a Recognition of Androgyny, New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1973. Hu, Q. S. etc. Ed. Selected Readings in 20th Century British and Amerian Literature: Modernism and Postmodernism. Shanghai: Shanghai Jiaotong University Press, 2003 Johnsen, W.A. Violence and Modernism: Ibsen, Joyce, and Woolf, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003. Joyce, J. Ulysses, Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1969. Lee, H. The Novels of Virginia Woolf, London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1977. Lehmann, J. Virginia Woolf and her World, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999. Lilienfeld, J. To the Lighthouse: New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf Ed. Jane, M. London: Macmillan, 1985. Lodge, D. Virginia Woolf, in S. Reid ed., Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1993.  Marder, H. Feminism and Art: a Study of Virginia Woolf, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. Majumdar, R. Virginia Woolf: a Annotated Bibliography of Criticism, 1915-1974, New York: Garland Pub., 1976. Marsh, N. Virginia Woolf, the Novels, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. McNees, E. Virginia Woolf: Critical Assessments, Mountfield: Helm Information, 1994. Mepham, J. Criticism in Focus: Virginia Woolf, London: Bristol Classical Press, 1992. Minow-Pinkney, M. Virginia Woolf and the Problem of the Subject, Brighton: Sussex, Harvester Press, 1987. Peach, L. Virginia Woolf, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Plato, A. The Symposium, translated by H. Walter, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. Poole, R. The Unknown Virginia Woolf, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Poresky, L.A. The Elusive Self, Toronto: Associated University Press, 1981. Roe, S. The Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf, Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2001. Rosenman, E.B. The Invisible Presence: Virginia Woolf and the Mother Daughter Relationship, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986. Ryan, B. Major 20th-Century Writers: A Selection of Sketches from Contemporary Authors, Detroit: Gale Research, 1991. Sellei, N. Katherin Mansfield and Virginia Woolf: a Personal and Professional Bond, New York: P. Long, 1996. Simpson, J. A. et al., The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. Singer, J. Androgyny: toward a New Theory of Sexuality, Garden City: N.Y., Anchor Press, 1976.  Woolf, V. The Voyage Out, London, Duckworth, 1915. Thakur, N.C. The Symbolism of Virginia Woolf, London: Oxford University Press, 1965. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Wollstonecraft, M. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, New York: Bartleby Com., 1999. Woolf,V. A Room of One’s Own, London: The Hogarth Press, 1929. Woolf,V. A Writer’s Diary, in L. Woolf ed., The Diary of Virginia Woolf, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1953. Woolf, V. Between the Acts, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1941. Woolf, V. Jacob’s Room, London: The Hogarth Press, 1922. Woolf, V. Moments of Being, in J. Schulkind ed., Unpublished Autobiographical Writings of Virginia Woolf, Sussex: The University Press, 1976. Woolf, V. Mrs. Dalloway, London: The Hogarth Press, 1925. Woolf, V. The Waves, London: The Hogarth Press, 1931. Woolf, V. The Years, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1937. Woolf, V. To the Lighthouse, London: Traid Grafton Book, 1987. Zwerdling, A. Virginia Woolf and the Real World, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
陈嘉 程西筠 马新国 瞿世镜 王佐良 任鹰 伍尔夫 伍尔夫 徐有富 杨惠中 叶胜年 易晓明 张念宏 张首映
英国文学作品选读 王璋辉著 西方文论史 伍尔夫研究 周珏良主编
1981 1983 2002 1988 外语教学与研究出版社 1991 1986 1994
英国简史 北京 上海
商务印书馆 高等教育出版社 上海文艺出版社
英国二十世纪文学史 北京 上海
文科论文写作概要 论小说与小说家 到灯塔去 上海
北京大学出版社 上海译文出版社 1988
上海译文出版社 南京 上海
治学与论文写作 语料库语言学导论 西方文化史鉴 优美与疯癫
上海外语教育出版社 中国文联出版社 北京 北京 能源出版社 2002 1986
Firstly, I am greatly indebted to my supervisor, Prof. Tong Jianping, for her valuable suggestions, patient guidance and careful reading of my manuscripts. Even though she has a full schedule, she is always ready for help. She always gives me fruitful, inspiring, and prompt advice. Most importantly, she has given me a free hand to pursue what appeals to me. Without her open-mindedness, this thesis could not have been here. Secondly, I would like to thank Prof. Zhou Guoqiang, Prof. Suo Yuhuan, Ms. Zhang Hongmei, Ms. Yong Liping, who have been a constant source of advice and support for me through these years. My appreciation is also extended to Prof. Chen Yongjie, Prof. Yu Liming, Prof. Shen Yan and Prof. Hu Kaibao, who served on my thesis committee and gave me valuable suggestions. Many other teachers and friends also provided me great support through the years. The following is an incomplete list: Prof. Hu Quansheng, Prof. Zheng Shutang, Prof. Mao Ronggui, and my classmates Ma Bailiang, Zhang Xian, Li Jing and Sun Jing. Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my parents, to whom this work is dedicated, and my husband, for his constant love, understanding and encouragement.
攻读学位期间发表的学术论文 目 录
浅谈美国黑人文学中的美国黑人精神 育与教学版 2004 年第 3 卷第 10 期
中国教育与教学杂志 2004 15-16