The Use of Perspective in “Time Passes”

In To The Lighthouse, Woolf uses narrative perspective to portray her unique style of storytelling all throughout the book. “Time Passes” is a short section that definitely sums up a lot of the happenings in a short amount of pages. Disillusion is one of the most intoxicating side affect for many people during WWI. Woolf changes the perspectives throughout “Time Passes” in a surprisingly brief and shallow manner. The perspective comes upon Mr. Carmicheal, lying in his bed reading reflects the war affected view. She writes of his war-like dehumanizing, “Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness, which creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds…” (Woolf 126). In this section, Woolf uses symbolism to create an even more intimidating face for the war that is going on during this period. By characterizing the wind as a reason to the war’s momentum, Woolf produces a viewpoint for the reader that implicates that a lot of fear and destruction is building inside of them. Again, we see the downfall to these characters as “Time Passes” continues.

Time is truly passing during this short section of the novel, not only in the actual sense of time but also in the downhill progression of the weakening of the minds of people affected by the war. I noticed this immediately in the change that is seen in Mr. Ramsay’s character. During the beginning of the novel, Ramsay is described by Woolf as “lean as a knife, narrow as the blade of one” (Woolf 4). He stands as such a definite and strong figure throughout “The Window”. She writes “But alas, divine goodness, twitching the cord, draws the curtain; it does not please him; he covers his treasures in a drench of hail, ans so breaks them, so confuses them that it seems impossible that their calm should ever return..” and continues on later in the passage ,”no image with semblance of serving and divine promptitude comes readily to hand bringing the night to order and making the world reflect the compass of the soul” (Woolf 128). Through this incredibly solemn scene viewed through the eyes of Mr. Ramsay, the implications of the war are greatly noted. Ramsay, a once unbreakable man, unexpectedly becomes a product of the war filled with confusion, sadness and emptiness. Mr. Ramsay stood out to me as the greatest example of the use of narrative that Woolf utilizes to produce the discomforting truth that WWI had produce in the way of the characterization of the Ramsay and the others.

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