Books and Movies Reviews

To the lighthouse, Intro to Narrative technique

Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse (1927)
Stream of consciousness, the narrative technique used by Woolf, was a relatively new method of storytelling used by many modernist writers in thefirst half of the twentieth century. The term "stream of consciousness" wasfirst used by philosopher William James in 1890 in his book Principles of Psychology. The metaphor is an apt one in its depiction of the ebb and flow of thought. Consider the way the human mind works when it is not concentrating on anything: The mind wanders from thought to thought, often diverted by outside influences
Thefirst thing to note about this novel is that Woolf uses a specific form of the stream of consciousness technique called "indirect interior monologue.""Interior" means that we are inside the consciousness of one character speaking to herself ("monologue"), thinking or remembering some past experience. Unlike "direct interior monologue" where the reader knows which character's consciousness is being presented, the consciousness being explored in the "indirect" method of Woolf is not always obvious. Sometimes it's one character's consciousness, sometimes the narrative voice, sometimes another character's consciousness, and often these are blended within one sentence without obvious signals being given as to the change of perspective.
Timeframes: Before examining an example from "The Window" section of the novel, it's important to keep in mind that this entire section comprises one day at the summer house of the Ramsays, a middle-class Victorian couple, and that the year is probably 1909. More specifically, we begin the section during the hours after tea when Mrs. Ramsay and her son James are sitting before the drawing room window while Lily Briscoe is painting their portrait. Other members of the household are involved with their ordinary occupations: …


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