Theme of Virginia Woolf’s novel “To the Lighthouse”
“To the Lighthouse is not a traditional novel as compares to other novels of those era, therefore, the novel has an element of complexity in it. The main idea of the novel is difficult to understand, as it does not contain a story but based on the technique of stream of consciousness used by the writer. The story deals in depth with the psyche of different characters in detail. However, coupled with the technique of stream of consciousness, there is also some relevant themes which makes this novel memorable in English literature. Critics are of the view the Virginia Woolf has not discussed anything in detail regarding theme of the novel and the onlything which reveals something is the completion of the story in second part, wherein we can get the theme of this novel. Some critics argue that the main theme of the novel is relationship between man and society, while some are of the view that this novel mainly deals with the transition of a person from one perspective to other as the character of Mr. Ramsay contain these elements of transition. Most of the critics are agreed with the point that the main and prominent theme of the novel can be the relationship of people with each other because it is the only technique which is used freely in the novel by the Writer but before discussing the different themes, used in this fictional work and before mentioning the final theme, let’s discuss what is a theme?
According to me, in simple words:
“A theme is the central idea of a literary work, which can be divided into two categories: a work’s thematic concept is what readers “think the work is about” and its thematic statement being “what the work says about the subject”.
So far as the theme of the novel in hand is concerned, the issue of relationship between each other is the dominant theme in the novel used by the writer to explain different characters in different aspects of life. We can clearly see that each character in the novel has been discussed in two main ways. First of all the Writer tries to depict the inner consciousness of the character and the second view is the focus of camera from a person’s mind to another specific character. Firstly, we see the character from his own pint of view and secondly we judge him through the mind of other characters related to him. To illustrate, let’s have an example, the character of Mrs. Ramsay can be judged in different ways. The writer gives his description through herself as well as through other characters. Mrs. Ramsay can be judged through eyes of Lily Briscoe. She can also be analyzed through the views of Mr. Tansley. Similarly, Lily Briscoe or Mr. Ramsay can also be observed through Mr. Tansley, which is an amazing technique. The relationship between each individual has been discussed by the writer in detail. There is a strong relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Although they both are different in their thinking yet they are much closed to each other in many ways. The relationship of Lily Briscoe and Mr. Bankes is also amazing to be discussed. Even otherwise, the relation of Tansley and Mr. Ramsay, the relation of Lily Briscoe and Mr. Bankes, the relation of children with their father, the relationof nature and life are examples, which forces us to believe that it is the prominent theme of the novel. In this backdrop, it is crystal clear that the theme of relationship is also a theme of this novel.
Another theme which is worth to mention here the relation of man and nature and at the same time the relation of an artist with Art and life. Lily Briscoe is the main character, which deals with this useful theme. We see Lily Briscoe painting but she can’t paint it. There is lack of harmony between her mind and her canvas while paining a pictorial idea. She is unable to depict as her mind is not clear and it is not satisfied to this extent that she will be able to paint the clear imagery of what she is thinking in her mind.
. In addition to these themes, change is also a noticeable idea of the novel. It is rightly said that change is law of nature and Virginia Woolf also cannot deny this fact. She is right while discussing these things in detail. In the first part we see Mr. Ramsay a rude character, who can be supposed a person without any feelings and emotions, is totally changed. It seems that he has fully adopted the characteristics of Mrs. Ramsay. Many of the characters are dead in part two and children’s views of about their father have also been changed. Likewise, Lily Briscoe, who, in part one of the novel, could not paint, is changed and portraying her painting without any fear and anxiety of her psychological mind. She has developed her relation with the nature and now she imitates it through her mind.
To conclude the whole discussion, it is prominent to mention that the effort of Virginia Woolf about the themes is much little. Anyone can have variance with my opinions but according to my vision, she is right in using only minute themes in her novels. As a result, the three main themes, change, relationship between different characters as well as relation of an artist with life are the main themes of the novel. If someone is still confused with the subject of a talk regarding this novel, he can pay attention to reply of Andrew Ramsay. When Lily Briscoe asks him that what type of books, your father writes. He replies “subject and object and nature of reality”. In short, the said answer of Andrew Ramsay wraps the whole theme of the novel.