To the Lighthouse
Adeline Virginia Woolf (/wʊlf/; née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.
“To the Lighthouse” ভার্জিনিয়া ওলফের একটি জনপ্রিয় উপন্যাস যা ১৯২৭ সালে প্রকাশিত হয়। এই উপন্যাসটি স্কটল্যান্ডে ঘটনার মাধ্যমে র্যামসে পরিবার এবং তাদের বিভিন্ন বন্ধু এবং পরিচিত ব্যক্তিদের সম্পর্ক উপস্থাপন করে। উপন্যাসটি তিনটি বিভাগে বিভক্ত করা হয়েছে – “দি উইন্ডো”, “টাইম পাসেস”, এবং “দ্য লাইথাউস”।
উপন্যাসের প্রথম বিভাগ “দি উইন্ডো” একটি দিনের ঘটনাবলী নিয়ে লেখা যেখানে র্যামসে পরিবার একটি নিকটবর্তী লাইটহাউসে যাওয়ার পরিকল্পনা করে। দ্বিতীয় বিভাগ “টাইম পাসেস” দশ বছরের মধ্যে র্যামসের বাড়িতে ঘটে যাওয়া ঘটনাগুলো বর্ণনা করে। এবং সর্বশেষ বিভাগ “দ্য লাইথাউস” এ দেখা যায়, দশ বছর পর র্যামসে পরিবার লঞ্চে লাইটহাউসে যাচ্ছে।
Part I: The Window
The novel is set in the Ramsays’ summer home in the Hebrides, on the Isle of Skye. The section begins with Mrs. Ramsay assuring her son James that they should be able to visit the lighthouse on the next day. This prediction is denied by Mr. Ramsay, who voices his certainty that the weather will not be clear. This opinion forces a certain tension between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, and also between Mr. Ramsay and James. This particular incident is referred to on various occasions throughout the section, especially in the context of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay’s relationship.
The Ramsays and their eight children are joined at the house by a number of friends and colleagues. One of these friends, Lily Briscoe, begins the novel as a young, uncertain painter attempting a portrait of Mrs. Ramsay and James. Briscoe finds herself plagued by doubts throughout the novel, doubts largely fed by the claims of Charles Tansley, another guest, who asserts that women can neither paint nor write. Tansley himself is an admirer of Mr. Ramsay, a philosophy professor, and Ramsay’s academic treatises.
The section closes with a large dinner party. When Augustus Carmichael, a visiting poet, asks for a second serving of soup, Mr. Ramsay nearly snaps at him. Mrs. Ramsay is herself out of sorts when Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle, two acquaintances whom she has brought together in engagement, arrive late to dinner, as Minta has lost her grandmother’s brooch on the beach.
Part II: Time Passes
The second section, “Time passes”, gives a sense of time passing, absence, and death. Ten years pass, during which the First World War begins and ends. Mrs. Ramsay dies, as do two of her children – Prue dies from complications of childbirth, and Andrew is killed in the war. Mr. Ramsay is left adrift without his wife to praise and comfort him during his bouts of fear and anguish regarding the longevity of his philosophical work. This section is told from an omniscient point of view and occasionally from Mrs. McNab’s point of view. Mrs. McNab worked in the Ramsay’s house since the beginning, and thus provides a clear view of how things have changed in the time the summer house has been unoccupied.
Part III: The Lighthouse
In the final section, “The Lighthouse”, some of the remaining Ramsays and other guests return to their summer home ten years after the events of Part I. Mr. Ramsay finally plans on taking the long-delayed trip to the lighthouse with daughter Cam(illa) and son James (the remaining Ramsay children are virtually unmentioned in the final section). The trip almost does not happen, as the children are not ready, but they eventually set off. As they travel, the children are silent in protest at their father for forcing them to come along. However, James keeps the sailing boat steady and rather than receiving the harsh words he has come to expect from his father, he hears praise, providing a rare moment of empathy between father and son; Cam’s attitude towards her father changes also, from resentment to eventual admiration.
They are accompanied by the sailor Macalister and his son, who catches fish during the trip. The son cuts a piece of flesh from a fish he has caught to use for bait, throwing the injured fish back into the sea.
While they set sail for the lighthouse, Lily attempts to finally complete the painting she has held in her mind since the start of the novel. She reconsiders her memory of Mrs. and Mr. Ramsay, balancing the multitude of impressions from ten years ago in an effort to reach towards an objective truth about Mrs. Ramsay and life itself. Upon finishing the painting (just as the sailing party reaches the lighthouse) and seeing that it satisfies her, she realises that the execution of her vision is more important to her than the idea of leaving some sort of legacy in her work.
Mr. Ramsay’s wife. A beautiful and loving woman, Mrs. Ramsay is a wonderful hostess who takes pride in making memorable experiences for the guests at the family’s summer home on the Isle of Skye. Affirming traditional gender roles wholeheartedly, she lavishes particular attention on her male guests, who she believes have delicate egos and need constant support and sympathy. She is a dutiful and loving wife but often struggles with her husband’s difficult moods and selfishness. Without fail, however, she triumphs through these difficult times and demonstrates an ability to make something significant and lasting from the most ephemeral of circumstances, such as a dinner party.
Mrs. Ramsay’s husband, and a prominent metaphysical philosopher. Mr. Ramsay loves his family but often acts like something of a tyrant. He tends to be selfish and harsh due to his persistent personal and professional anxieties. He fears, more than anything, that his work is insignificant in the grand scheme of things and that he will not be remembered by future generations. Well aware of how blessed he is to have such a wonderful family, he nevertheless tends to punish his wife, children, and guests by demanding their constant sympathy, attention, and support.
A young, single painter who befriends the Ramsays on the Isle of Skye. Like Mr. Ramsay, Lily is plagued by fears that her work lacks worth. She begins a portrait of Mrs. Ramsay at the beginning of the novel but has trouble finishing it. The opinions of men like Charles Tansley, who insists that women cannot paint or write, threaten to undermine her confidence.
The Ramsays’ youngest son. James loves his mother deeply and feels a murderous antipathy toward his father, with whom he must compete for Mrs. Ramsay’s love and affection. At the beginning of the novel, Mr. Ramsay refuses the six-year-old James’s request to go to the lighthouse, saying that the weather will be foul and not permit it; ten years later, James finally makes the journey with his father and his sister Cam. By this time, he has grown into a willful and moody young man who has much in common with his father, whom he detests.
A young friend of the Ramsays who visits them on the Isle of Skye. Paul is a kind, impressionable young man who follows Mrs. Ramsay’s wishes in marrying Minta Doyle.
A flighty young woman who visits the Ramsays on the Isle of Skye. Minta marries Paul Rayley at Mrs. Ramsay’s wishes.
A young philosopher and pupil of Mr. Ramsay who stays with the Ramsays on the Isle of Skye. Tansley is a prickly and unpleasant man who harbors deep insecurities regarding his humble background. He often insults other people, particularly women such as Lily, whose talent and accomplishments he constantly calls into question. His bad behavior, like Mr. Ramsay’s, is motivated by his need for reassurance.
A botanist and old friend of the Ramsays who stays on the Isle of Skye. Bankes is a kind and mellow man whom Mrs. Ramsay hopes will marry Lily Briscoe. Although he never marries her, Bankes and Lily remain close friends.
An opium-using poet who visits the Ramsays on the Isle of Skye. Carmichael languishes in literary obscurity until his verse becomes popular during the war.
The oldest of the Ramsays’ sons. Andrew is a competent, independent young man, and he looks forward to a career as a mathematician.
One of the Ramsays’ sons. Jasper, to his mother’s chagrin, enjoys shooting birds.
One of the Ramsays’ sons. Roger is wild and adventurous, like his sister Nancy.
The oldest Ramsay girl, a beautiful young woman. Mrs. Ramsay delights in contemplating Prue’s marriage, which she believes will be blissful.
One of the Ramsays’ daughters. Rose has a talent for making things beautiful. She arranges the fruit for her mother’s dinner party and picks out her mother’s jewelry.
One of the Ramsays’ daughters. Nancy accompanies Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle on their trip to the beach. Like her brother Roger, she is a wild adventurer.
One of the Ramsays’ daughters. As a young girl, Cam is mischievous. She sails with James and Mr. Ramsay to the lighthouse in the novel’s final section.
An elderly woman who takes care of the Ramsays’ house on the Isle of Skye, restoring it after ten years of abandonment during and after World War I.
The fisherman who accompanies the Ramsays to the lighthouse. Macalister relates stories of shipwreck and maritime adventure to Mr. Ramsay and compliments James on his handling of the boat while James lands it at the lighthouse.
The fisherman’s boy. He rows James, Cam, and Mr. Ramsay to the lighthouse.
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