Stream of Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse delves into the minds of its characters in a stream of consciousness approach. The characters’ thoughts and feelings blend into one another, and the outward actions and dialogue come second to the inward emotions and ruminations. In the dinner party sequence, for instance, Woolf changes the point of view frequently, with transitions often marked by the sparse dialogue. While shifting the point of view from person to person, Woolf develops her characters through their thoughts, memories, and reactions to each other. An illustration of point of view in a scene
Chapter XVII of The Window begins with Mrs. Ramsay wondering what she has done with her life, as she directs guests to their seats and ladles out soup. She sees her husband at the far end of the table, frowning. “What at? She did not know. She did not mind. She could not understand how she had ever felt any emotion or affection for him” (83). As she thinks about her displeasure and disconnectedness with Mr. Ramsay, Mrs. Ramsay notes that she would not speak out loud her inner feelings. There is a strict difference between her actions and her thoughts: Raising her eyebrows at the discrepancy—that was what she was thinking, this was what she was doing—ladling out soup—she felt, more and more strongly, outside that eddy. (83) Being outside of the eddy is her sense of “being past everything, through everything, out of everything” (83). Completely out of touch with Mr. Ramsay and everyone else at the table, she instead focuses on how shabby the room is, how sterile the men are, and how she pities William Bankes. Finding meaning and strength again in her pity, she gets past her mental weariness enough to ask him an innocuous question about his letters.
The point of view shifts abruptly to Lily Briscoe, who is watching Mrs. Ramsay intently and imagining her thoughts. Lily is able to read Mrs. Ramsay...
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