Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Haffey, Mary

Major or Concentration



In my essay, I seek to complicate typical ideas surrounding gender politics in Virginia Woolf’s Modernist novel, To the Lighthouse. To do this, I first consider the portraits of Mr. Ramsay and his son, James, to show that Woolf, contrary to popular opinion shies away from simplistic portraits of masculine power. That is, rather than creating two typically masculine gentlemen, as most critics posit that she does, Woolf instead creates two characters who fail to conform to masculine norms. This discrepancy suggests that, Woolf captures a shifting cultural landscape in language and portrays the birth of a more “Modern Man.” She continues to play with gender binaries in her depictions of the two central female characters, Lily and Mrs. Ramsay. Accordingly, this essay shows that, while it may not always take the same forms as masculine (or standard power), both characters exhibit a feminine type of power readers should acknowledge.