“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.

Lady of Shallot

In 1832, just years before the death of William IV and the crowning of Victoria, the heavily modernized societies pushed forward, searching to define who they were and what they stood for. With such a rapid economic expansion, citizens were becoming whiplashed by the unthinkable poverty and immense national success. This unpredictable society, constantly engaged in social changes and bright innovations, was later stabilized as Queen Victoria stepped into her role in 1837. Becoming the face of British continuity, Victoria knew she must command firmly, not to correct the chaos, but direct it toward further building the industrialized world. Editors of the Longman Anthology discuss how the “Victorian” period, first coined in 1851, “Signifies social conduct, governed by strict rules, formal manners, and rigidly defined gender roles” (Damnrosch Pg. 1051). This placed enormous pressure on women to selflessly remain enslaved by the household duties and spousal expectations. Of course the poor families needed a double income in order to feed the starving mouths they bred, but the well-born or well-married women were not so “lucky.” This shackling predetermination led to the feminist revolution, aided, not only by the oppressed women, but by journalists, artists and poets like Lord Alfred Tennyson. In his poem “The Lady of Shallot,” Tennyson exaggerates the affluent women’s condition by imprisoning a Lady in her castle, placing a curse on her for if she disobeys, and forcing her to weave year round, completing her womanly duty. These literal actions portray the hidden emotion of the wealthy and able women during the Victorian period, furthering the campaign of the feminist movement. “The Lady of Shallot” exemplifies how playing along with the guidelines of society can entangle the individuality of the person and halt progression.

Our Society at Cranford and Darwinism

In “Our Society at Cranford,” Elizabeth Gaskell explains how the Amazons way of life resemble Darwin’s “struggle for existence”(1273). This predominantly female culture upholds their own social decorums such as wearing practical instead of flattering clothing and practicing modesty when discussing wealth. They also naturally remove the men who enter into their culture by singling them out and scaring them to death, whatever they do “somehow the gentlemen disappears”( 1432). The women have evolved to live in harmony with each other and easily get past the “occasional little quarrel” (1433). Captain Brown, on the other hand, was different than most men and lasted longer in this ecosystem than the women had initially thought. His ability and understanding of the way these women would talk, act and think gave him a leg up. He was able to treat the women the way they wanted to be and “his manly frankness had overpowered all the shrinking which met him as a man who was not ashamed of being poor”(1435). He would help the maids at parties and would tend to the ladies needs. It is not discussed if Captain Brown was like this before entering this environment or if he knew to evolve like darwin’s finches but either way his characteristics, although physically different, fit well with his new home. In the end Captain Brown was not deceived or outcast by the women yet it “was the Captain’s infinite kindness of heart”(1439) that caused the wheel of natural selection to land on him. In his efforts to save a boy from getting hit by a train, Captain Brown tripped and fell just before the train passed over him. Sometimes it is not the animals in the ecosystem that plot your demise for further gain but the interworking of that ecosystem that takes the life. No matter how a being evolves with regard to its fellow beings, one must always remember to evolve with regard to the system itself.

Lines left upon a seat in a Yew-tree

As we read “Lines left upon a seat in a Yew-tree,” we clearly see the deep inner thoughts and reflections reminiscent to the Romantic period. It contrasts the Enlightenment by teaching that solidarity and mediation can heal the turmoil that a fast paced world provides. Not only do we as humans need to take the time to have these reflections but we also need to provide ourselves with the correct surroundings in order to reach new levels of realization.  This poem creates wonderful imagery of nature and then teaches us what to do with such a setting near the end. “Instructed that true knowledge leads to love, true dignity abides with him alone who, in the silent hour of inward thought, can still suspect, and still revere himself, In lowliness of heart” (Line 56).