The Image of the Lighthouse and Lily’s Pursuit of Artistic Dreams in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

Baker M. Bani-Khair, Shadi S. Neimneh


This paper studies the pivotal image of the "lighthouse" in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927) from three different perspectives and with relation to one artistic figure in the novel. On a psychological level, the paper explores the image of the lighthouse that seems to synchronize with Lily Briscoe’s inner self that constantly changes in accordance with her psychological dreams and ambitions. In this regard, this image reflects her awareness, self-epiphany, and character development. On philosophical and ontological levels, the image of the lighthouse seems to reflect Lily's views about her being and existence, views that continually change as time goes on. The concept of place represented by the lighthouse manifests how Lily’s character has undergone a drastic development through her contemplation of art and life. Lily has got her own individual philosophy about life because she could also look at things from a different critical and philosophical perspective. Her perceptions of place, the surroundings, and the cycle of time influence her understanding of the meaning of life and death. The paper also investigates the role of art from an unconventional perspective so as to reveal essential concepts such as time, the idea of being, transformation, self-realization, and more importantly—death. As a result, Woolf’s novel emerges as a supremely symbolic, and hence a truly modernist, text.



Virginia Woolf; To the Lighthouse; Art; Imagery; Symbolism; Literary Analysis.

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