The Exquisitely Wrought Feminine Expression in Virginia Woolf’s to the Lighthouse

Iraj Montashery


This paper mainly focuses on the character of Lily Briscoe, particularly in relation to her stance and positioning between the maternal figure Mrs Ramsay, and the paternal figure Mr Ramsay, as well as how she struggles to find a purely feminine form of expression to escape patriarchal ideology and language, which only accommodate and value masculine identity. To this end, I will argue that Lily awakens her desire for the maternal space to resist patriarchal values; in doing so, she inscribes those desires through the development of a feminine language in her painting. This feminine language disrupts and subverts the culturally constructed hegemony of masculine identity, the latter of which relegates feminine identity to a marginal and subordinate position. Consequently, through her feminine language, Lily is ultimately able to construct a gendered identity for herself, which defies absolute identification with either the paternal or the maternal.

Keywords: Desire, Feminine language, Gender, Symbolic, Semiotic, Maternal space

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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