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The masculine and the feminine in Virginia Wolff's "To the Lighthouse".

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Introduction

In what ways does the writer engage the reader with notions of the masculine and the feminine in this text ? This text is centred on three characters: a mother, Mrs Ramsay, a father, Mr Ramsay, and their son, James Ramsay. The author fully uses these characters to represent the masculine and the feminine, notions with which the author engages the reader through the characters? behaviours as well as their thoughts and feelings about each other. Mrs Ramsay ?representing the feminine? is seen as the kind, tolerant and protecting mother: the extract, which is the opening of the very first chapter of the novel, directly starts by a mother agreeing with something her son, James, wants to do. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas concerning his father, James has strong feelings of hatred against him. Indeed, when Mr Ramsay says ?it won?t be fine? ?contradicting Mrs Ramsay? James directly feels a murderous rage against him: ?Had there been an axe handy, a poker, or any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father?s breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it?. Considering James is six years old, we notice an odd link between his age and what he can feel for and about his parents and how strong these feelings can be (the author actually points out how Mr Ramsay engenders ?extremes of emotion [?] in his children?s breasts by his mere presence?). ...read more.

Conclusion

Nonetheless, Mrs Ramsay doesn’t let her husband contradict her without reacting to it, she actually answers back: “But it may be fine – I expect it will be fine”. And this slightly brings their couple out of the cliché of the men’s superiority and the women’s inferiority in a classical novel’s family –thus characterizing this novel as modernist. To conclude, the masculine and the feminine in this text are respectively represented by Mr and Mrs Ramsay and are especially engaged by their son, James, and his feelings towards them. Mr Ramsay appears to be severe and hard by his appearance but mainly by the fact that James clearly desires to kill him. And Mrs Ramsay seems to be the perfect mother, and above all loved by her child, as James’ feelings express it. ...read more.

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