Study Guide

To the Lighthouse Love

By Virginia Woolf


Love takes several different forms in the text: lasting love that’s still flawed, love that casts a glow on everyone else, love that doesn’t last, friendly love, familial love, admiring love, love as an intellectual topic, etc., but the main point is that love is not the sort of all-consuming force you see in Anna Karenina. Love in To the Lighthouse is pretty tame and usually turns out to be love for Mrs. Ramsay.

Questions About Love

  1. Why does everyone keep falling in love with Mrs. Ramsay (if they weren’t already)? Who does not, or who loves her with a grain of salt?
  2. Much is made of Paul and Minta on the night of their engagement – they’re so in love. Why didn’t this last? What do they lack that Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay do not?
  3. According to Lily, love takes "a thousand shapes." What are the various shapes it takes in To the Lighthouse?
  4. Do Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay love each other?

Chew on This

Mrs. Ramsay does not love Mr. Ramsay. Lily loves Mrs. Ramsay despite spurning almost everything Mrs. Ramsay stands for.