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To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse

by Virginia Woolf

Victory Theme

Victory in To the Lighthouse most frequently occurs over life, but occasionally victory is scored over other people as well. The main point, however, is that victory occurs beneath the surface in To the Lighthouse and often in social interactions. Mrs. Ramsay scores a victory by not saying "I love you," yet Mr. Ramsay has never asked her to say it. On the surface they have a perfectly civilized conversation. Victory and defeat occur in the nuances of interaction, not in the overt way that, say, a world war encompasses victory and defeat.

Questions About Victory

  1. How exactly does one triumph over life? How do the characters in the novel do it?
  2. What’s up with Lily’s triumph over the dead Mrs. Ramsay?
  3. What’s the deal with the personal victories over other characters? Are these helpful or destructive in personal relationships?
  4. James and Lily are the two most victorious characters at the end of the novel. Evaluate the previous statement.

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

James and Lily are the two most victorious characters at the end of the novel, although James’s victory rings hollow.

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