Introduction: The journey to the Lighthouse occurs in Part III of the novel. The action of this part is depicted at two levels. At one level we find the thoughts and meditations of Lily Briscoe and the achievements by her of the final vision which solves the artistic problem, faced by her. At the other level there is the trip which Mr. Ramsay makes to the Lighthouse in the company of James and Cam. Both the chains of events are closely related because Mr. Ramsay’s trip not only offers certain ideas about character and time but also contributes to Lily’s achievement of the final vision.
In memory of Mrs. Ramsay: Mr. Ramsay’s decision to make a journey to the Lighthouse reveals his masculine ability. He summons the help of James and Cam in making the journey but they are reluctant about the matter. So he compels them to join him in his venture. This journey should have been made ten years before when James, a boy of six had a strong fascination for it but it was cancelled by Mr. Ramsay because of foul weather. Mrs. Ramsay, who is now dead, had also been very keen about the journey to the Lighthouse but her desire had been frustrated by foul weather. Now when Mr. Ramsay makes that journey, he is in a sense performing a rite in memory of his dead wife. At the same time this journey may be taken as a voyage into the future, perhaps a voyage to death itself.
Reaffirmation of feminine and masculine traits: In Part III Cam and James reaffirm their basic feminine and masculine traits suggested in Part I. Cam like her mother feels confused by facts. When questioned by her father about the points of the compass during this journey, she shows an ignorance as Mrs. Ramsay showed her ignorance of the meaning of the technical phrase, “the square root of a given number” in Part I. As for James, he believes, like his father, that life is difficult; and he also realizes that he and his father share a loneliness which was, for both of them, the truth about things.
The spirit of reconciliation: The journey to the Lighthouse in Part III offers the spirit of reconciliation to the persons concerned. Cam and James start their journey, hating their father Mr. Ramsay fe bis tyranny and for forcing them to make the trip. But during the actual journey their attitudes to their father change, and they become Ponciled to him. On the sea in the boat, Mr. Ramsay seems to be so Confident that Cam begins to admire him for his bravery and she feels greatly encouraged by the feeling of security which he radiates. James’s hatred of his father has gradually been eroding with his increased awareness of the similarities between them. Their original hatred of their father, who ruled out the possibility of a trip to the Lighthouse because of bad weather in Part I is altogether effaced when he admired James’s skilful steering of the boat.
Conclusion: The journey to the Lighthouse in Part III is actually a tribute to Mrs. Ramsay who is dead now and who was always hopeful of making a trip with her children to the same place. At the end of the journey they feel a great love and affection for their father, Mr. Ramsay who becomes free and frank to his children. Thus the journey to the Lighthouse is a journey from egotism to impersonality. Mr. Ramsay is now a much better man than he was before, just as Lily is a better painter now than she was before.
Leave a Reply