Oddly Mr. Ramsey seems to genuinely care for his wife; indeed, he appears a bit in awe of her. Yet, her “beauty” seems to be the lens through which his awe is inspired and is necessarily “complimented” by her “ignorance, her simplicity.” Why, indeed, does he need to imagine his wife as “not clever” and unable to “understand what she was reading”? Does a female object of love/a woman worthy of love, need to have diminished intellectual capacities, in order for the man [Mr. Ramsey] to feel adequately “masculine?” Can he not be “a man” if his wife has evident “book-learned” intelligence (given that his books are so integral to his sense of self-worth).

[Mr. Ramsey’s and Mrs. Ramsey’s articulation/manifestation(s) of “love”]:

“He was looking at her quizzically … but at the same time he was thinking, Go on reading. You don’t look sad now, he thought. And he wondered what she was reading, and exaggerated her ignorance, her simplicity, for he liked to think that she was not clever, not book-learned at all. He wondered if she understood what she was reading. Probably not, he thought. She was astonishingly beautiful” (182).

“He [Mr. Ramsey] wanted something – wanted the thing she [Mrs. Ramsey] always found it so difficult to give him; wanted her to tell him that she loved him. And that, no, she could not do … It was only that she never could say what she felt … She knew that he was thinking, You are more beautiful than ever. And she felt herself very beautiful. Will you not tell me just for once that you love me? … But she could not do it; she could not say it. Then, knowing that he was watching her, instead of saying anything she turned, holding her stocking, and looked at him. And as she looked at him she began to smile, for though she had not said a word, he knew, of course he knew, that she loved him” (184-85).

“And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again. She had not said it: yet he knew (186).

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There is so much push/pull in these two chapters, starting with Lily asking herself where is Mrs. Ramsey going so quickly--only to be followed in the next sentence with the statement that she is not going quickly, she's actually going slowly! And then the push/pull of the children. One needs the skull gone; the other needs it right where it is. Mrs. Ramsey to the rescue, as always, it seems. Her night of triumph continues. And then, she and Mr. Ramsey, communing without speaking (the very definition of a long, loving marriage). He wants words; she cannot say words. Again, the push/pull, which--as Mona says--begins to feel very much like two people engaged in foreplay. But this is not just sex; this is sex as love. She is a woman who sees the world through all of her emotions, while he searches desperately to understand the world through words. She cannot be captured--her essence. (So sexy, to be on the loose like that--he wants to capture her but it is impossible.) And now she is full of dreaminess, as well, accepting that she is too old to go down to the beach at night like the young people, but still feeling that want, that desire of youth. (Sex.) I am rambling! When she won't say the words "I love you" but instead sends them to him via her own form of Vulcan mind-meld--well, she wins, always. No wonder everyone loves her. I picture her vibrating at a pulse that all can feel without seeing. She is a force and that force is love. (And honestly, I have no idea what I'm talking about, but this is what comes to mind this morning.)

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I just love the way Woolf uses objects, returning to them again and again. In these chapters, we have the stocking, again, and the acknowledgment that it will not be finished. Mr. R says "You won't finish that stocking tonight," and Mrs. R responds "No, ...I shan't finish it." So progress has been made, but not enough. And how wonderful that she doesn't echo "tonight." Such finality to that.

And the shawl! Such readerly pleasure to have Mrs. R use the shawl to wrap the skull after she has searched for something else: "...they all watched her go to the chest of drawers, and open the little drawers quickly one after another, and not seeing anything that would do, she quickly took her own shawl off and wound it round the skull, round and round and round..." Of course she uses the shawl. It's one of those surprising and yet inevitable moments that Woolf manages again and again.

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“.... “the Rayleys”—she tried the new name over; and she felt, with her hand on the nursery door, that community of feeling with other people which emotion gives as if the walls of partition had become so thin that practically (the feeling was one of relief and happiness) it was all one stream, and chairs, tables, maps, were hers, were theirs, it did not matter whose, and Paul and Minta would carry it on when she was dead.”

I love how this quote seems to give a deeply human force to the stream of consciousness technique. Mrs. Ramsey is not “interfering” as much as she wants to last long into the future through memory, a female version of the men wanting their books to last? This also from the last chapter as Mrs. Ramsey reads her sonnets:

"Slowly it came into her head, why is it then that one wants people to marry? What was the value, the meaning of things? (Every word they said now would be true.)"

The question again, what is the meaning of things? And after learning every word they said now would be "true," he only says the stocking will not be finished (she wants the “asperity” in his voice). She says the stocking won’t be finished. She says it will be "wet" tomorrow, no lighthouse. But still the evening ends as her "triumph.”

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Have you noticed, that the longer a couple have been together, the less said outside the essential, but less need be said?

"Their eyes met for a second; but they did not want to speak to each other. They had nothing to say, but something seemed, nevertheless, to go from him to her."

People watching in a public place, say, in a restaurant, usually you can tell duration of relationship by how much is being said.

Some prefer that "I love you" be said through deeds not words:

"And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again. She had not said it: yet he knew."

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The dinner party is in the past but Mrs R is sure it will live on in the participants memory. Her mind wanders around her domesticity and settles on all the dinner party guests one at a time. Mrs R feels she has triumphed because she did not tell Mr R she loved him. I found these two chapters difficult (again) and melancholy. Into rereading territory again. The action is over and VW takes us back inside her characters minds (mainly Mrs R). It is settled they won’t be going to the lighthouse tomorrow. The world of men and the world of women are once again conflicted through Mr and Mrs R. VWs intertextuality is again interesting. Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott MrR is reading The Antiquary (1816), the third of the Waverley novels by Walter Scott and Mrs R quotes. Shakespearean sonnet.

I do wish the Ramseys would actually talk to each other (about something other than the weather) rather than imagining what the other is thinking.

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Mrs. Ramsay’s thoughts are so chaotic after dinner - diving into water, climbing into trees - maybe she can blame it on the BOEUF EN DAUBE, the way Scrooge blamed the appearance of Marley on an underdone potato.

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May 9·edited May 9

It's interesting that the two of them, Mr. and Mrs. R. end up alone in a room together silently reading at the end of the first section. The scene in some way has to explain all that has gone before, put in context for us the activity, the extreme activity of the earlier chapters. In Ch. 18 Lily the observer is left watching Mrs. R. disappear "with an air of secrecy to do something alone" but all she does in that chapter is check on her two youngest children and set things right for them. So there is a slight delay, a kind of forestalling, a run-up, while we wait to see what Mrs. R. is up to .. of course she can't go watch the waves at night, she has something else to do ... Ch. 19 she walks into the room where Mr. R. sits reading, and we are off to the races. Did we not know that we wanted to see them together alone at last?

But they are only reading .. and no one is talking. But there "is something I want - something I have come to get" Mrs. R. thinks. And she goes completely into a private journey of her own, through the poetry she is reading, which was started in her at dinner and that she is just now able to get to.. a private moment for herself where she goes "swinging herself, zigzagging this way and that, from one line to another as from one branch to another from one red and white flower to another." The stocking (duty) has been abandoned for reading (pleasure) and it is only when the stocking is once more taken up by her that she can speak. She breaks the silence, even as her mind is still back in the poetry. She tells a joke. The kind they both understand. They are speaking the same language, but can't say anything to each other about where they have just been. There is some kind of avoidance going on, with sexual undertones that are all about him looking at her, "she could feel his mind like a raised hand shadowing her mind." There's a bit of violence embedded there, a raised hand to slap, as he slaps his thighs while reading? Or to stroke, as the lighthouse beam strokes her brain? Or is it like Nancy, brooding over the tide pool?

This feels like Mrs. R's book and story, no matter how much of Mr. R. there is .. but still good to see them together, for together they made this, whatever it is, whatever it means.

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After the vision of eternity at the dinner party, and the knowledge that it was already receding into the past, these two chapters seem like a denouement, a falling action, as the dinner guest break off into smaller groups. I understand Alfred-Patrick-- the pig skull is disturbing. The last scene does seem to end in a perfect understanding between Mr. and Mrs. R... happiness, possibly a prelude to sex. Mona seems to think so. But it’s preceded by Mr. R thinking that his wife doesn’t understand what she’s reading. Hmmm...

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Agree with Mona's note about the sex scene. One of Woolf's many masterful word choices, 'crepuscular,' to reference their animal nature. It's toward the end of Part I and Ch 19: "...through the crepuscular walls of their intimacy, for they were drawing together, involuntarily..."

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I love how everything, no matter how abstract, has character, almost a physicality, is alive, evolves as we pay attention. “Mr. Bankes took Charles Tansley by the hand and went off to finish on the terrace the discussion they had begun at dinner about politics, thus giving a turn to the whole poise of the evening, making the weight fall in a different direction...”

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Perhaps it's because this isn't my first time with To the Lighthouse; to me chs. 18-19 feel filled to brimming with melancholy and heavy foreshadowing.

"And directly she went a sort of disintegration set in"

"She felt rather inclined just for a moment to stand still after all that chatter and pick out one particular thing; the thing that mattered; to detach it; separate it off; clean it of all the emotions and odds and ends of things..."

"she grew still like a tree... it didn't matter, any of it, she thought"

"shoving her way up under petals that curved over her"

I'm touched by how Mrs Ramsay, at the close of this day, seeks stability and order and stillness (the purple triangle again) even going so far as to attach herself symbolically to the branches of the elms outside–now tossing, now settling. And this silence between herself and Mr Ramsay; is it companionable? I'm not convinced. She would have liked to go.

"Would they go to the Lighthouse tomorrow? No, not tomorrow, she said, but soon, she promised him; the next fine day."

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You don't sound very lost .. or if you are, it's in your own productive way : )

The catastrophe, as I understand it, is that people die and nothing stays the same and time keeps on ticking, to put it crudely .. I haven't got any further than that, and not sure there is a further to get to!

I would personally leave bi-polar anything out of it ...

Whatever it is, whatever it means .. to the Ramsay kids .. to the world, nothing .. ?

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Her thoughts cannot shed Tansley (that must be the definition of a troublesome house guest): "She hoped he would not bang his books on floor... For neither of them slept well; they were excitable children, and since he said things like that about the Lighthouse, it seemed to her likely that he would knock a pile of books over, just as they were going to sleep..." Later she even adds this to her memories of the night but then realizes she invented it.

And then the "Yets" begin. "Yet he looked so desolate; yet she would feel relieved when he went; yet she would see that he was better treated tomorrow; yet he was admirable with her husband; yet his manners certainly wanted improving; yet she liked his laugh..." Troublesome indeed; she can neither dismiss nor embrace Tansley.

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Maybe the sweetest passage in the entire book, “That’s my mother,“ thought Pru. Yes; Minta should look at her; Paul Rayley should look at her. That is the thing itself, she felt, as if there were only one person like that in the world; her mother.… What an extraordinary stroke of fortune it was for her, to have her, and how she would never grow up, and never leave home …”

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This read I found that Mrs. Ramsay's shedding of her shawl to make the peace gave me pause. That she sheds her protection for her children is in character, and yet I long to say, no, no, your own oxygen mask first!

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