To the Lighthouse : summary

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To the Lighthouse is a notable literary work by Virginia Woolf. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of To the Lighthouse.


“To The Lighthouse” is a novel written by British author Virginia Woolf. It was published in 1927. The novel tells the story of the Ramsay family’s visit to the Isle of Skye between 1910 and 1920. The entire novel is divided into three sections: The Window, Time Passes, and The Lighthouse.

“The Window” section begins just before the First World War. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay take their eight children to their summer house for a summer vacation. Their summer house is in the Hebrides (a cluster of islands off western Scotland). Just across the bay from their summer house is a lighthouse. Six-year-old James Ramsay was eager to visit the lighthouse. Mrs. Ramsay reassures him that if the weather is good, they will go to the lighthouse Tomorrow. James was happy to hear this. However, Mr. Ramsey says that Tomorrow, the weather conditions will not stay good at all. Hearing Mr. Ramsey’s statement, James is angry. He thinks his father is too strict with him and his other siblings.

The Ramsay family invited some relatives to their home. Charles Tansley was also present in that dawa. Mr. Ramsey is a metaphysical philosopher, and Tansley greatly admires his work. Lily Briscoe was also present. Lily Briscoe is a painter and begins to paint a picture of Mrs. Ramsey. Mrs. Ramsay wants Lily to marry William Banks, an old friend of the Ramsay family. But Lily refuses to get married. She wants to remain single for the rest of her life. However, Mrs. Ramsay managed to have another marriage. He arranged the marriage of two of their acquaintances, Paul Reilly and Minta Doyle.

That afternoon, Paul proposed to Minta. Meanwhile, Lily begins her painting. Mrs. Ramsay tries to calm a restless James. Moreover, Mr. Ramsay is concerned with his shortcomings as a philosopher. That evening, the Ramsay family hosted a dinner party. Paul and Minta take the Ramsay family’s two children for a walk on the beach and return late. Seeing Lily’s painting, Charles Tansley says that girls cannot paint and cannot write. Lily is very angry after hearing this. When a poet named Augustus Carmichael asks for soup for the second time, Mr. Ramsay gets angry. As the night deepens, all the guests spend a memorable time together.

Mrs. Ramsay leaves the dining room, and suddenly, the incident appears to be in the past. She then joined her husband in a parlor. He wants his wife to say that she loves him. But Mrs. Ramsay was not one to talk like that. Of course, Mr. Ramsay knows that his wife loves him. Mrs. Ramsay said to Mr. Ramsay, the weather is very bad. In this condition, you cannot go to the lighthouse. It is how time passes.

“Time passes” very quickly in the “Time Passes” section. War broke out in Europe. Mrs. Ramsay died suddenly one night. Their eldest son, Andrew Ramsay, died in the war, and his sister, Prue, died in childbirth. The Ramsay family no longer vacations at the summer house. The summer house is covered in cobwebs. The garden is overgrown with weeds. Ten years later, the Ramsay family returns to that summer house. Mrs. McNab cleans the house with the help of some other people. Everything is back to normal when Lily Briscoe returns.

Then begins “The Lighthouse” section. This section also passes slowly, like “The Window.” In the section “The Window,” Mr. Ramsay said that he would take James and Cam (Mr. Ramsay’s daughter) to the lighthouse. On the morning of the journey, Mr. Ramsay got angry. When he asks Lily for sympathy, Lily cannot give it to him like Mrs. Ramses. Then, they set out for the lighthouse. Lily sits on the lawn and thinks about finishing the painting she started last time. James and Cam are somewhat annoyed by their father’s rough temper. However, whenever they reach the lighthouse, they feel love for their father. Mr. Ramsay admires James’ skill as a sailor. It creates a good relationship between father and son. Meanwhile, Lily finishes her painting. This is the first time she is very happy to complete a painting.