Study Guide

To the Lighthouse Part 1, Chapter 8

By Virginia Woolf

Part 1, Chapter 8

  • Mr. Carmichael does not respond, and we get an extended ramble down Mrs. Ramsay’s Memory Lane. We suggest that you take a deep breath right now. Ok, here we go:
  • Mr. Carmichael takes opium, which the children say stains his beard.
  • Mrs. Ramsay thinks Mr. Carmichael is obviously unhappy and comes to stay with the Ramsays each year as an escape.
  • Mr. Carmichael doesn’t trust her; Mrs. Ramsay blames his deceased wife.
  • Mrs. Ramsay goes out of her way to be nice to him. She suspects that her desire to be helpful and nice is merely vanity, and that Mr. Carmichael’s rejection of her efforts reveals the pettiness in her character.
  • And we’re back. Mrs. Ramsay continues reading The Fisherman and his Wife to James.
  • Mr. Ramsay stops, looks at his wife and kid, nods approvingly, and continues walking.
  • As he walks, he thinks. You may ask, what is he thinking about? In a sentence: He wonders what would happen if Shakespeare had never existed, and from there somehow concludes that the greatest good of society requires a class of slaves.
  • Mr. Ramsay walks to a piece of land which he can’t seem to avoid. The sea is eating it away.
  • And now we have a metaphor! The sea is human ignorance.
  • Mr. Ramsay always needs praise.
  • Lily puts away her painting things and Mr. Ramsay walks back to the house, stopping once to look back at the sea.