Essay about Gender Roles in To the Lighthouse

1294 Words 6 Pages
The novel explores gender roles through the characters of Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Ramsay, and Lily. Each of these characters embodies different views in regards to gender roles. The readers are taken into their minds and thoughts and are allowed to see what each character views is the role of his/her gender. Mrs. Ramsay embodies the traditional, ideal woman. She is a wife and mother. She sees her role as being a supporter to her husband, her children, and to the people around her. Mrs. Ramsay is occupied with matronly duties, such as knitting socks and running errands. She is devoted to her children. She sympathizes with James, understanding his disappointment at not being able to go to the lighthouse. She looks through a catalog for pictures …show more content…
Ramsay dies, Mr. Ramsay has no one to turn to for sympathy. He silently begs for sympathy from Lily Briscoe, but she refuses to give any. Nonetheless, despite Mrs. Ramsay’s desire to please and serve her husband, she is able to do so while remaining independent. When Mr. Ramsay desires Mrs. Ramsay to say that she loves him, Mrs. Ramsay is able to satisfy his desire and still remain triumphant. Mrs. Ramsay believes that marriage is the ideal state for all women. She believes that “an unmarried woman has missed the best of life”. She believes that “people must marry; people must have children”. Therefore, she gets Paul and Minta to marry, and tries to get Lily to marry. She is convinced that Paul and Minta will be “perfectly happy” and that their “marriage will turn out all right”. Mrs. Ramsay sees no other role for women than that of a wife and mother. She sees that domestic role as being the only fulfilling role for women. Mr. Ramsay represents the traditional male gender role. He is a dominating husband and father. At the very opening, James is furious at his father. Mr. Ramsay excites the “extremes of emotions” in his children. James is so upset at not being able to go to the lighthouse that he wishes to kill his father. It seems to him that Mr. Ramsay takes pleasure in “disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife”. Mr. Ramsay is a stern, authoritative father. He believes that his children should understand, at a young age, that “life is

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