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Thoughts in “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf


The complexity involved in the working of the human mind is beyond explanations. The flow of thoughts in an individual is Brownian at a superficial level but looking at it from the perspective of a philosopher one realizes the implicit presence of ‘The Stream of Consciousness’. Throughout the history of arts and literature authors, writers, poets, painters, photographers, musicians and other literary scholars have demonstrated its effect. When observed at the internal layer of a creation, a window to the mind of the creator opens up. It presents an opportunity for the viewer to understand the on going thought process of the artist at the time of the conception of the art. Then cometh the realization that he/she is not so different from the artist and how one’s own thoughts lead into another, which eventually leads into another and so on.

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Each one of us has our flow of thoughts, which we do not seem to realize. However, once pondered over it leads to a feeling of wonder, marvel, astonishment and awe. The study of the human psyche reveals the fact that a consciousness of some sort goes on at all times in each individual. Everyone would agree that all states of mind succeed each other. Thoughts cannot be explained with the ease we define rains or winds. Thus, we are forced to merely say that thoughts come naturally.

There are crowds of thoughts, one’s own and those of the others, some of which go together mutually, and some do not. Paradoxically, none of one’s thoughts can be separated from the other, but each belongs with certain others and with none beside. Thoughts keep on changing constantly. One moment we are seeing, in another hearing or maybe reckoning, willing, remembering, expecting, caring, hating and in a numerous another manner we tend to keep our minds constantly engaged. We assume that our feeling is altering every moment, so much so that an object fails to deliver same sensation each time it comes across. We perceive things according to state of mind in which one is: drowsy, awake, hungry, full, fresh or when exhausted. We sense objects in a different way at night and in the morning, another way in summer and in winter; and most evidently in a dissimilar manner in childhood, manhood, and old age. Nevertheless, we by no means doubt that our thoughts divulge the same world, with the equivalent sensible traits and the same sensible objects occupying it.

“..It was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscriptions on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge...” (Woolf, p. 37). Throughout ones lifetime, one develops several relationships and this influences the flow of thoughts largely. One often mulls over the bondage shared with other people in the surroundings. The constant hovering around conversations, gestures and various forms of interactions with them forms a major part of humane life. Thus it leads to a want, a feeling to be related and plays a key role in the human mind’s venture into the world of thoughts and consciousness.

It also longs for peace and love and wishes they lasted for an eternity. “. there is a coherence in things, a stability; something, she meant, is immune from change, and shines out (she glanced at the window with its ripple of reflected lights) in the face of the flowing, the fleeting, the spectral, like a ruby; so that again tonight she had the feeling she had had once today, already, of peace, of rest. Of such moments, she thought, the thing is made that endures.” (Woolf, p. 76). Nobody can deny this want. Thoughts about achieving mental satisfaction and how to attain harmony have a permanent place in the subliminal.


Above all thoughts relating to the perception of Life itself have engrossed numerous philosophers, scholars and the learned over a long period. Depths and the meaning of life have been a central theme of thought for probably every individual who makes an effort to justify his existence. One often contemplates about the duties he needs to perform, his approach towards life and goals to achieve. He reflects on how he would be remembered after his days are over. He finally thinks if it is worth doing what he does. Will it be his fault if he goes by his natural instincts and does what he wants rather than reaching the ultimate? “Who will not secretly rejoice when the hero puts his amour off, and halts by the window and gazes at his wife and son, who, very distant at first, gradually come closer and closer, till lips and book and head are clearly before him, though still lovely and unfamiliar from the intensity of his isolation and the waste of ages and the perishing of the stars, and finally putting his pipe in his pocket and bending his magnificent head before her—who will blame him if he does homage to the beauty of the world?” (Woolf, p. 26).

Works Cited

Woolf, Virginia; To the Lighthouse; Wellington: Polity Press (2001)

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 26). Thoughts in “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. Retrieved from


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