To the Lighthouse

Topics: Leo Tolstoy, Art, Virginia Woolf Pages: 5 (1809 words) Published: December 17, 2012
Formulation of an Artist
As one of the earliest and most influential feminist writers of the last century, Virginia Woolf has offered her readers many different topics of interest such as discrimination, social exclusion and roles of gender in a Enlgish society. Woolf was born on the 25th of January, 1882 to a notable historian, author and critic and her mother renowned beauty. Woolf, one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century, started writing professionally in 1990 for the Times Literary Supplement. She touched the topics of stream of consciousness along with the underlying psychological and emotional motives of character. Woolf’s To the Lighthouse has made her a mature, self-fulfilled modern writer. The novel argued Woolf’s personal stand to answer whether “women can’t paint, women can’t write,” that reflected the English prejudice of the role of women in the family and society (Woolf 48). Woolf used Lily’s character throughout the book the let the reader know the progression in becoming an artist. Woolf’s use of Lily throughout the novel showed the upbringing of an incomplete character. Lily along with her painting became a complete object at the end when she realized the reasons behind her need to become an artist, a unique person and above all learn to take advantages of moments and vision in life. In the first section of the book, Lily was not portrayed as the visionary artist that she becomes at the end of the novel with “I have had my vision” as she makes the symbolic trip to the Lighthouse. In “The Window” at the beginning of the novel Lily is portrayed an inexperienced struggling to overcome her own insecurities: “She could have wept. It was bad, it was bad, it was infinitely bad! She could have done it differently of course; the colour could have been thinned and faded; the shapes etherealized; that was how Paunceforte would have seen it” (27). Lily was trying to figure out her own vision and identity in her paintings in order to see “the colour burning on a framework of steel; the light of a butterfly's wing lying upon the arches of a cathedral;” however, Mr. Tansley kept whispering in her ear that “Women can’t paint, women can’t write…” (78). It is a known fact that Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is her most autobiographical novel and she expresses her reflections on art through the various experiences through Lily. Lily is a devoted painter, where she experiences the frustration of trying to become an artist. She tries to capture in her painting the original untainted object it is transformed by society and its values. The difficulties with her paintings come at beginning of the novel, when she is rigorously attempting to paint Mrs. Ramsay sitting with the child at the window of her summer house. She was finding it difficult to give the canvas the impressions she wanted with her paint and brush, “It was in that moments 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” (14). However, she against all odds wants to give the painting an appealing expression. No doubt she is a painter but her commentary on some certain events is expressed in terms deemed appropriate to the man of letters. Lilly and the world know that art requires complete concentration which comes from when the artist has eliminated all other elements of distractions. Unfortunately, Lily is not able to accomplish this oneness with her paintings and art until the closing of the novel. An artist’s paintings and posters cannot be formed in the similar fashion without any inspirations and visions that undertake and create the work of art. An artist has to be able to overcome incredible odds and difficulties before the formulation of his or her dreams. According to the novel, it takes four separate moments of inspiration for Lily to finish her painting over a...
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