Jane Lilienfeld’s article, “Where the Spear Plants Grew: the Ramsays’ Marriage in To The Lighthouse”, examines how Virginia Woolf displayed the Ramsays’ marriage in negative and positive lights while still hoping to urge others for new types of human love. Lilienfeld shows how the Ramsays are stuck in their middle class Victorian roles and values in the essay. Mr. Ramsay represents the perfect masculine figure, while Mrs. Ramsay represents the feminine figure. Their marriage is bound by the set patriarchy that Lilienfeld says hasn’t changed much since the 1850’s. The Ramsays’ are based on Woolf’s own parents and Lilienfeld says that the gender roles they play in the novel mirror the real Stephen’s. Apparently, Leslie Stephen, or Mr. Ramsay, believed that it was natural law that women should not have any legal rights and that she should not take a job. Even though his wife, Julia Stephen, or Mrs. Ramsay, was held tight by Mr. Stephen’s beliefs, according to Lilienfeld, her quiet resistances were not lost on Woolf as she grew up. Lilienfeld also says that the Victorian age constantly reinforced that women were inferior to men, in every possible way. To keep this notion in control the society did not allow women to be educated or even if they were, still held the notion that they were not intelligent. Lilienfeld says that whenever Mr. Ramsay believes that his wife is intellectually inferior, he finds her more attractive. But Mrs. Ramsay is not content with her status in the marriage. Although she constantly defers to Mr. Ramsay and eventually blames herself for any anger felt, she does feel anger. Lilienfeld claims that the Ramsays do love each other, but because they are constrained and unable to communicate their marriage has many faults. Mr. Ramsay is unable to admit his wife’s intelligence because he is too self conscious of his own, while Mrs. Ramsay won’t allow herself to be occupied by anything outside of the domestic sphere. Therefore, Mrs. Ramsay forces her husband to have a strange dependency on her and they are not able to grow intellectually together.
Lilienfeld, Jane. "Where the Spear Plants Grew: the Ramsays' Marriage in To the Lighthouse." New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Ed. Jane Marcus. Lincoln, 1981. 148-69. Print.
WELCOME TO MY BLOG!
Hello all! My name is Drew Blanchette. I'm 21 years old and a class member of the Virginia Woolf Seminar. First and foremost, I must warn potential viewers that I have no knowledge of Virginia Woolf's work. I am hoping that as the class progresses and I have a chance to read her apparently fabulous works (or so I have been told) I will develop some knowledge and appreciation. As my blogs increase perhaps the reader will pick up on my progression! Hopefully whoever looks over my site will enjoy my posts and not be too bored by my analyzing attempts. Thanks ahead of time for viewing my site!