Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Novel to the Lighthouse,Ec-301,Modernist Literature

Name              -      Bhatt. Dhara. J

Roll no:          -       02

M.A.Part-2    -       Sem-3

Paper              -       02, Ec-301

Paper name   -       Modernist Literature 

Topic for Assignment      -
"Stream of Consciousness Novel to the Lighthouse"

Submitted To: Dr.Dilipsir Barad
  Department of English,
  Bhavnagar university,

  "Stream of Consciousness Novel to the Lighthouse"


*      Revolutionary Devices, Employed in Novel-Writing

                                           The phrase “Stream of Consciousness” was coined by William James 1 to describe the flow of thoughts of the waking mind. Subsequently his phrase began to be used in a literary context to describe the narrative method by which certain novelists have described the unspoken thoughts and feelings of their characters, without resorting to objectives description or conventional dialogue. James Joyce was a pioneer in using this technique in his novels of which the best known are Ulysses and The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And this technique was also used by Virginia Woolf. The related phrase “interior monologue” is used to describe the inner movement of Consciousness in a character’s mind. A famous example of the interior monologue is the opening pages of Mrs.  Dalloway. The use of devices of the stream of Consciousness and the interior monologue marks a revolution in the form of the novel because through these devices the author can represent the flux of a character’s thoughts, impressions, and emotions and reminisce ness, often without any logical Sequence. Closely linked to this new view of time was the new view to consciousness deriving in a general way from the of end and Jung, but Concentrating on the fact of the multiplicity of Consciousness the presence in the given Consciousness of all it had ever experienced and perhaps also of all these that race had experienced.

*           Characters, Presented Through their Own and through other’s Consciousness

                    According to Virginia Woolf, the Conventional novel did not express life adequately. She was of the opinion that life was a shower of ever-failing atoms of experience, and not a narrative line. Life, she said, was a luminous halo, a semitransparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of Consciousness to end.

                   She also expressed the view that, if we want an adequate portrayal of life, we should turn to James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. She tried to experiment with the same technique in her novel, ’To the Lighthouse’. In which the character reveal them very much in the same way. However, her method differs from that of Joyce in certain important respects Virginia Woolf does not put us directly into the minds of her people all the time. She does depict character through the inner Consciousness of the Person’s whom we meet in this novel. But she herself remains the controlling intelligence, speaking in the third person. While she very seldom slips in Comments of her own, she remains the narrator, telling us what is going on in the various minds.

                  Virginia Woolf Shoes us a particular person in this novel not only through the Consciousness of that person himself or herself, but also through the Consciousness of the other persons. We are given the interior monologues of the various characters in this novel, and it is largely through the twin devices of stream of Consciousness and the interior monologue that we come to know the various characters. Thus we see Mrs. Ramsay not only through her own Consciousness but through the Consciousness of Mr. Ramsey, the child James, Lily Briscoe, Mr. Tansley, and Mr. Bankes. Similarly we come to know Mr. Ramsay not only through his own Consciousness but also through the Consciousness of Mrs.Ramsay, the young James, Lily Briscoe, and Mr. Bankes. In fact, every character in the novel is presented to us through his own Consciousness and also through the Consciousness of the other characters. At the same time, the characters are occasionally presented to us directly by the all-knowing author of the novel, and also sometimes bits of conversation or dialogue between the characters.

*           Rejection of Traditional Technique

                      Mrs. Woolf’s Concern in writing novels was not merely to narrate a story as the older novelists did, but to discover and record life as the people feel who live it. Hence it is she rejected the conventional technique of narration and adopted a new technique more suited to her purposes. It is for this reason that in ‘To The Lighthouse’ she not told a story, in the sense of a Series of events, and has Concentrated on a small number of Characters, whose nature and feelings are represented to us largely through their interior monologues. In order to capture the inner reality, the truth about life, she has tried to represent the moving current of life and the individual’s Consciousness of the fleeting movement, and secondly, also to select from this current and organize it so that the novel may penetrate beneath the surface reality and may give to the reader a sense of understanding and completeness. The interior monologues of the different characters are, no doubt, given, but the novelist, the central intelligence, is also constantly busy, organizing the material and illuminating it by frequent Comments.

*           The Role of The Central  Intelligence

                    In this respect Mrs. Woolf’s technique of narration is quite different from that of the “Stream of Consciousness” novelists. Writers,  James Hafley.

                   “Far from being   a stream of Consciousness novel, ’To the Lighthouse’ is the objective account of a central intelligence that approaches and assumes the characters. Consciousness, but does not become completely identified with any one Consciousness. This central intelligence is thus free to Comment upon the whole in what seems a completely impersonal manner, as this short passage shows:
                 ‘It is a triumph’ said Mr. Bankes, laying his knife down for a moment. He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectly cooked. How did she manage these things in the depths of the country? He asked her. She was a wonderful woman. All his love, all his reverence, had returned; and she knew it.”

                “It is a French recipe of my grandmother’s said Mrs. Ramsay, Speaking with a ring of great pleasure in her voice. Of course it was French. What passes for cookery in England is an abominations; it is pulling cabbages in water. It is roasting meat until it is like leather. It is cutting off the delicious skins of vegetables. ’In which’, said Mr. Bankes,
“All the virtue of vegetables is contained”

                 Here the central intelligence is reporting a part ofg the dinner Conversation.

*      Suspense and Curiosity

                 Other aspects of Mrs. Woolf’s technique of narration may now be noted To The Lighthouse begins by taking us into the middle of scene; Mrs.Ramsay’s opening remark is the answer to unstated question, which we have to supply by picking  up clues from what follows. The reader’s natural curiosity thus becomes involved. We wonder who these people are, what they are talking about and so on. As we read on, prompted by this desire to know, we begin to recognize a pattern in the narrative at same time as we assimilate names, facts, ideas.

*           The Pattern : Conversation  and Reaction

                    Then, too, the pattern begins to establish itself; the pattern that is, of Conversation and reaction, of the actual words in the first person and the present tense, and the reflections of the characters in the third person and the past tense. This violence of feeling is seen first in the child, James and seems natural to the exaggeration of childhood; we are thus prepared in an acceptable way for the emotions of the adult character, Tempe real by age and experience, but made more complex too.

*      Sources of Unity

                   A number of devices have been used to impart structural unity to the novel. First, she has introduction only a limited number of characters, and they have been isolated in a remote island away from society. Further, out of this isolated group, she has focused attention only on two or three personalities, and exploited their stream of Consciousness alone. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, and lily Briscoe are the main figures. Other is only of a Secondary importance.

(B)The Role of the Central Intelligence
                      Secondly, the readers are not placed directly within the minds of characters, as in the modern psychological novel, but the central intelligence of the novelist is constantly at work as the narrator, controlling and organizing the material, and illuminating it with its comments, and order emerges out of chaos.

(C)Lily’s Painting
                        Lily’s painting is another device by which the novelist has patterned her material. The novel begins with Lily her easel and her paints and brush on the laws of the Ramsay’s Summer House, and it ends with her having her vision and completing her picture.

(D)The Lighthouse
                        The Lighthouse is another important source of unity in the novel. It shines throughout at a distance, and all the lines of the novel Converge towards it. The expedition to the lighthouse is planned in part I, and it is actually undertaken in part.III.

(E)  Emotional Unity

                       To the Lighthouse may not have a logical unity, a logical sequence of Cause and effect, it is have a unity of a higher and stronger kind i.e. emotional unity. Jean Guiget has considered the point in detail, and we may be excused for quoting from him at length;
                      “Lily Briscoe, painting on the lawn, from time to time costs a glance towards the bay to watch the boat on which Mr. Ramsay, James and Cam are sailing. But this link is purely eternal; the real unity of the sections lies in the Coincidence of Project and thought me the Completion of Lily’s Canvas, the fulfillment of James’ plan. It is not so very important that Lily sees the sails fall and Flap; what common is their common immobility: “Life stands still here, and “The boat made no motion at all.”

                       And further on, the mixture of charm and tyranny in Mr. Ramsay occupies the thoughts of Lily, and so on the end, where Mr. Ramsay’s unexpressed vision is identified with Lily’s- his defeat and triumph. The brackets enclosing the brief section 7 and 10 irresistibly recall the events inserted in the same fashion in Time Passes. Like these, they are hard kernels of a different nature to the flux out of which they emerge. The mutilated fish interrupting Lily’s tragic cry, the sea having apparently swallowed up the little boat and obliterated the lives of the passengers while, all the time, James, Mr. Ramsay and Cam purse their own train of thought. But heterogeneous as they are, these observations, like the events in time passes, have a secret relationship with the context that they seem to interrupt. The mutilation and survival of the fish is, at the same time, the survival of Mrs. Ramsay and the mutilation of Lily’s universe peace evoked by the scene she is contemplating emphasize the remoteness of the past which the occupants of the boat are remembering and the feeling of reconciliation which is doing amongst them at this movement.

*Third Person Narration

                         The Third person narration is a very Common novel device Virginia Woolf is, however, very careful to mock her direction of the narrative as little noticed as possible. Her use of direct speech for the interior monologues of her characters makes it easy for her to work into these mental soliloquies a number of statements and ideas which are outside the range of knowledge of character she is dealing with.

                          When, for example, at the beginning, she describes the feelings of James about his father, she moves from what the child is thinking to what Mrs. Ramsay habitually did and said, through impersonal sentences:
                         “Had there been an ate 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. Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr. Ramsay excited in his children’s  breasts by his mere presence : Standing: disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife, who was ten thousand times better in every way than he was (James thought), but also with some secret conceit  at his own accuracy of judgment. What he said was true. It was always true. He Was incapable of untruth; never tampered with a fact; never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all of his own children, who sprung from his loins, should be  aware from  childhood that life is difficult…….”

                             The statements in the midge here clearly develop from James is thinking, but we seem to move away from the child himself into a general comment, which, in turn, merges into the description of Mr. Ramsay’s attitude towards life. Yet we hardly notice the shift because of the uniformity of style; the two currents of thoughts seem to flow together. Just as this third person narration makes it possible for Virginia Woolf to move smoothly from one character to another, so in the novel as a whole it is a unifying Principle.

*The  Completion of The Circle

                             If the arrival at the lighthouse and the completion of Lily Briscoe’s picture complete the circle of the book, and if Time Passes forms a sort of landing between the upward movements of The Window and the downward, resolving movements of The Lighthouse, we find here the same structural design. The Part I, Conforms to this design. Section II, when  the fairy tale is finished and James has gone, a perfect moment, rich with solitude and revelation, certainly forms a peak that communicates its exaltation to the second half of the chapter, which however, never reaches the same intensity at this may moment.

                      In other respects the closing pages, while they show the difference between the Ramsays being resolved, bring us back to the starting point, the projected journey. In one sense, the circle is completed here too, nevertheless the postponement of the plan, the frustration of James’s hopes introducing the possibility of a letter realization, leave the way open for the third part.

*    Conclusion

                                   The lighthouse has been employed as a Symbol and it has a number of undertones of meaning, and serves the purpose of a unifying factor in the novel. The action moves on normal Constructional lines from scene to scene and from the mind of one person to that of another. There is very little Complication. These shifts from one consciousness to another and these movements are made further easy by allowing every incident to take place in a close knit homogenous world. ’To The Lighthouse’ is a masterpiece of Construction. It is an organic whole. It is a great work of art which fully deserves the Praises that have been lavished on it.

                                    She (Mrs. Woolf) has cleverly avoided the drawbacks of the stream of Consciousness novel, and given form and coherence to her material. She is not haphazard and incoherent like the other “Stream of Consciousness” novelists. Indeed through her flexible style she fuses narrative and description of thought, imparts farm and unity, and conveys a sense of the amazing richness and Complexity of life.  


  1. Keep writing with specific points and their relevant explanation. It is good sign of your writing.

    Keep doing this method.

  2. Hi,
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    I like Ur writing,its good and I like ur views.
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  3. can i contact with the dr or the writer of this text? it is serious. i wanna write my MA thesis about this. who can help me plz. it is urgent.

  4. What are the modernist features of to the lighthouse

  5. What are the modernist features of to the lighthouse