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To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse

by Virginia Woolf

The Window

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Mrs. Ramsay spends her afternoon sitting at a window, reading to James. Lily Briscoe is attempting to paint them. The window encapsulates Mrs. Ramsay in a very static position, while everyone else is caught up in dynamic movement: Mr. Ramsay is walking, Lily is painting, the children are playing cricket. The window furthermore frames Mrs. Ramsay as the centerpiece of the whole tableau. Mr. Bankes gazes adoringly at her, Lily looks at her critically in order to properly paint her, and Mr. Ramsay runs over for sympathy. The window is therefore the physical manifestation of the more abstract idea that Mrs. Ramsay is the center of the household, in addition to the idea that she is separate and apart from everyone else (literally separated by a pane of glass).

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