“Time Passes”

The “Time Passes” section in Virginia Woolf’s Novel To the Lighthouse dramatically changes the perception of time by condensing ten years of turmoil into only 20 pages. In the first section “The Window” she uses time to deeply describe the psychology of time rather than the chronology of it which portrays the world as a more internal intuition rather than material process. In this section Woolf depicts the cruel effect of time on objects such as the beach house and its contents instead of the personal development of her characters. The Ramsey’s fear of time is finally gaining merit as the legacy and work of some characters are slowly erased by time. The bracketed sentences about Prue and Andrews death create a lack of emotion for such events and depict something of breaking headlines or military orders. This shift from psychologic perception of time to the new chronologic passing of time causes the characters to be revered as secondary supporters to a much bigger picture. This mentality validates Mr. Ramsey’s original thoughts of how a simple stone will outlive us all. How nature is everlasting but the turmoil within each character can cause vast amounts of change in short amounts of time. After the strong winds redesign the landscape, the barren life that the lighthouse now maintains is an eerie remembrance of what life used to be. “A pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded skirts, and coats in wardrobes – those alone kept the human shape and in the emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated;…” (pg. 123). This new environment mixed with the tragedies each character endured miniaturizes he European emotion as a whole after WW1. Prue’s death in childbirth diminishes the continuity of life while Andrew’s death brings out the impact of war. After everything comes to a close the Ramsey’s struggle to continue in their daily life confidently which represents the postwar state of mind of all of Europe.


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