To the Lighthouse Book Question and Answers

To the Lighthouse Book Important Question and Answers

Honours 4th year
20th Century Novel
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
To the Lighthouse Book


Part A : Brief Questions with Answers

About the Author

  1. Who was Virginia Woolf?

Ans. Virginia Woolf was a novelist, short story writer, feminist, socialist and pacifist of the modern age.

  1. What was Virginia Woolf’s original name?

Ans. Virginia Woolf’s original name was Adeline Virginia Stephen.

  1. When and where was Virginia Woolf born?


Ans. Virginia Woolf was born on January 25, 1882 at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, London.

  1. Who was Virginia Woolf’s mother?

Ans. Virginia Woolf’s mother was Julia Jackson Duckworth, member of the Duckworth publishing family.

  1. Who was the father of Virginia Woolf?


Ans. Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904) was the father of Virginia Woolf.

  1. What was Sir Leslie Stephen famous for?


Ans. Sir Leslie Stephen was a famous Victorian critic, scholar and also the founder of the Dictionary of National Biography.

  1. What do you know about Woolf’s education?

Ans. Educated at home by her father, Woolf was not allowed t go out for attending any institution for study but she had some lessons in Greek, taught to her by Janet Case, sister of Walter Pater.

  1. What facilities of reading did Virginia Woolf get at her home?


Ans. Unlike other girls of her age who were discouraged from reading, Virginia had unlimited access to her father’s magnificent library and as she was a voracious reader, she spent much of her time in reading books.

  1. Who taught Virginia Woolf writing?


Ans. Sir Leslie Stephen, Woolf’s father, taught her writing, saying whatever one intends to write, one must do so in the fewest possible words, as clearly as possible exactly what one means.

  1. What was the reason for Woolf’s first nervous breakdown?


Ans. The sudden death of her mother in 1895 when Virginia Woolf was 13, and that of her half-sister Stella two years later caused her first nervous breakdown.

  1. How was Virginia Woolf affected by her father’s death?


Ans. Virginia Woolf’s most critical emotional breakdown occurred after her father’s (Sir Leslie Stephen’s) death in 1904 of cancer. She even tried to commit suicide out of her mental depression and frustration.

  1. Whom did Virginia Stephen marry and when?

Ans. Virginia Stephen married the writer and political theorist Leonard (Sidney) Woolf, son of a London based barrister on August 10, 1912.

  1. What are the notable works of Virginia Woolf?

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Ans. The notable works of Virginia Woolf are To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando : A Biography.

  1. What is the name of Virginia’s first novel? Ans. The Voyage Out, published in 1915 is the first novel of Virginia Woolf.
  2. Which book is regarded as the most significant feminist text?


Ans. A Room of One’s Own, an essay published in 1929 is regarded as one of the most significant feminist texts.

  1. When did Virginia suffer her first mental breakdown?

Ans. Virginia Woolf lost her mother in 1895 when she was a girl of only thirteen and this caused her first mental breakdown.

  1. What caused Virginia’s most critical emotional breakdown?


Ans. Virginia Woolf had her most critical emotional breakdown on account of her father- Sir Leslie Stephen’s death in 1904 of cancer.

  1. What was Woolf’s desperate attempt following the death of her father?

Ans. Following the death of her father, Sir Leslie Stephen in 1904 Virginia Woolf desperately tried to commit suicide out of mental depression and frustration.

  1. How was Virginia affected by the immature death of her brother Thoby from typhoid?


Ans. In 1906, Virginia Woolf suffered a bout of depression and mental agony following the death of her brother Thoby from typhoid after a holiday in Greece at an age of 25.

To the Lighthouse Book
  1. How was Virginia Woolf affected by World War ll?


Ans. In 1940, during World War II, Virginia Woolf’s Mecklenburg Square house was damaged and her house at Tavistock Square (Hogarth Press) was destroyed by enemy forces’ bombing.

  1. Why did Virginia Woolf suffer frequent attacks and fits of depression?


Ans. The deaths of many of Virginia’s friends and family members caused her emotional disturbances. Besides, the prospect of World War II and her sick health were a heavy strain on her psyche leading to frequent attacks and fits of depression.

  1. How did Virginia Woolf die?

Ans. On March 28, 1941, after a serious attack of depression, Virginia Woolf filled her overcoat with stones, walked into the River Ouse near her home and drowned herself to death.

  1. In what way does Virginia Woolf represent the feminization of the English novel?


Ans. Virginia Woolf in her novels gives us the woman’s point of view. Her picture of life does not include sordidness and vice, brutality and criminality. For all these she is said to have represented the feminisation of the English novel.

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  1. What contribution did Virginia Woolf make to English literature?

Ans. Virginia Woolf made major contributions to Modernist fiction through her innovative use of experimental techniques such as stream of consciousness, interior monologue, poetic impressionism, indirect narration and multi-perspectives.

Introducing the Novel

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. What kind of novel is To the Lighthouse?

Ans. To the Lighthouse is an autobiographical fictional novel with its many characters and events, based on the author’s family but at the same time several philosophical issues, its style and social concerns have shaped the novel into a great work of art.

  1. When was the novel To the Lighthouse published?


Ans. To the Lighthouse was published in 1927.

  1. What do you know about the plot of To the Lighthouse?

Ans. To the Lighthouse, being a “stream of consciousness” novel lacks a logical sequence of cause and effect but it has an emotional unity presented through a philosophical introspection of an omniscient narrator moving from one mind to another and controlling, ordering, and organising the chaotic material.

  1. What are the major themes of To the Lighthouse?


Ans. There are three major themes in the novel To the Lighthouse- (i) the study of human relationships, (ii) the relation between man and nature and (iii) the relation of art to life.

  1. What literary techniques does Virginia Woolf employ in her novel To the Lighthouse?

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Ans. Rejecting the conventional method of narration in To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf presents interior monologues of different characters but she makes the central intelligence (the omniscient narrator) constantly busy organising the material and illuminating it by frequent comments.

  1. What is a stream of consciousness novel?

Ans. Stream of consciousness novel is a type of modern psychological novel in which a story emerges from and is often limited by the narrative perspective of the stream of consciousness of one or more characters.

  1. How is the story of To the Lighthouse told (presented) to us?


Ans. In To the Lighthouse the story is not told in the way of a series of events but the nature and feelings of a number of characters e presented to us largely through their interior monologues.

  1. How does Virginia Woolf differ from the conventional technique of narration in her novel To the Lighthouse?


Ans. To the Lighthouse differs from the conventional novels in its technique of narration in the sense that it is an objective account of a third person omniscient narrator who is the central intelligence, and who approaches and assumes the characters’ consciousness but does not identify with any one and free to comment impersonally.

  1. What is interior monologue?


Ans. Interior monologue is an extended representation in prose or verse of a character’s unspoken thoughts, memories and impressions rendered as if directly overheard by the reader without the intervention of a summarising narrator.

  1. What type of interior monologues do you notice in To the Lighthouse?


Ans. The interior monologues of different characters in To the Lighthouse are constantly organised and illuminated with comments by the central intelligence (the third person omniscient narrator) who sometimes assumes the characters’ consciousness but does not become completely identified with any.

  1. Why is To the Lighthouse a novel of multiple point of view?


Ans. To the Lighthouse is a novel where there is a careful blending together of characters’ consciousness, author’s (or narrator’s) comments and one character’s view of another through interior monologues. That is why it is a novel of multiple point of view.

(Part 1: The Window)

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. Where is the Ramsay family spending a summer holiday?


Ans. The Ramsay family and some guests are spending a summer holiday in the mid-September on the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides by the west coast of Scotland.

  1. How many children do Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay have?

Ans. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay have eight children, four sons and four daughters.

  1. What are the names of the Ramsay children?


Ans. The Ramsay sons are Andrew, Jasper, Roger, and James, and the daughters are Prue, Rose, Nancy and Cam.

  1. How many guest are with the Ramsay family to spend the summer vacation and what are their names?


Ans. There are six guests to spend the summer vacation with the Ramsay family and their names are Lily Briscoe, Augustus Carmichael, Charles Tansley, William Bankes, Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle.

  1. What is James doing when the novel opens? Ans. Six-year-old James is seen sitting with his mother by the window.
  2. What can one see through the window? Ans. One can see through the window the lawns and the sea at a distance.
  3. What promise does Mrs. Ramsay make to James?


Ans. Mrs. Ramsay makes a promise to James that if the following day’s weather is fine, he will be taken on a visit to the Lighthouse but he will have to get up early in the morning.

  1. What does James feel and do at the prospect of expedition to the Lighthouse?


Ans. James is overjoyed and sits on the floor cutting out pictures from an illustrated catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores.

  1. How are James’ hopes shattered?


Ans. James’ hopes of expedition to the Lighthouse are shattered when his father Mr. Ramsay gruffly declares that the weather will not be fine the next day.

  1. What is Mr. Ramsay doing when James is sitting with his mother by the window?

Ans. Mr. Ramsay is seen strolling on the terrace on the other side of the window.

(Part II: Time Passes)

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. What is the purpose of Part II (Time Passes) of To the Lighthouse?


Ans. Part II (Time Passes) of To the Lighthouse is designed to reveal the force of time and change upon man and his works, and also to emphasize the indifference of Nature to man’s fate.

  1. Whose deaths are informed in Part II of the novel?


Ans. In Part II we are informed that Mrs. Ramsay, Andrew and Prue are dead.

  1. What is the condition of the Lighthouse in Part II of the novel?

Ans. The Lighthouse still sends out its beam of light, but the house has been invaded by rats and there are other symptoms of decline.

  1. What happens when Mr. Carmichael blows out his candle?


Ans. It is past midnight and after Mr. Carmichael having gone to sleep blowing out his candle everything seems to be enveloped with darkness.

  1. Why does the Ramsay house appear lonely?


Ans. Silence, stillness and loneliness pervade the house due to the sudden death of Mrs. Ramsay.

  1. Why do the outstretched arms of Mr. Ramsay remain empty?


Ans. Mr. Ramsay stumbling along the passage, stretches his arms out one dark morning but he does not find his wife who died the night before. So his arms remain empty.

  1. Who is Mrs. McNab?


Ans. Mrs. McNab is an old woman who looks after the island home of the Ramsays during their absence from it.

  1. How does Mrs. McNab perform her duties at the island home of the Ramsays?


Ans. Mrs. McNab, an old working woman visits the island home of the Ramsays once in winter to dust the house, and to tidy up things as much as she can with her frail hands.


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  1. When is Prue Ramsay married?


Ans. May, during Spring.

  1. When does Prue Ramsay die and why?


Ans. One year after her marriage Prue Ramsay dies in Summer at the time of childbirth.

  1. How does Andrew Ramsay die?


Ans. The First World War breaks out and Andrew who had enlisted in the army dies in France in a shell explosion.

(Part III: The Lighthouse)

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. Who go on a trip to the Lighthouse in Part III of the novel?

Ans. Mr. Ramsay, Cam and James.

  1. How old are James and Cam in Part III of To the an A Lighthouse?


Ans. James is sixteen and Cam is seventeen.

  1. What does Lily hear Mr. Ramsay uttering as he comes near her?

Ans. Looking straight at Lily Mr. Ramsay muttered certain words and Lily heard him say “alone” and “perished”.

  1. What decision does Lily take during her second visit to the Ramsay summer house?


Ans. Lily has decided to resume the task of painting her picture which she left incomplete ten years ago.

  1. How does the Ramsay house appear to Lily after ten years?

Ans. The Ramsay house after ten years appears to Lily to be full of “unrelated passions”.

  1. What change does Lily mark in the Ramsay children after ten years?


Ans. To Lily the Ramsay children seem much changed. Although they are looking dumb, they seem to resent their father’s tyrannical behaviour.

  1. What does Mr. Ramsay remind his children about?

Ans. Mr. Ramsay reminds his children about the voyage to the Lighthouse, they are to make on the following morning.

  1. How old is Lily Briscoe during her second visit to the Ramsay house?


Ans. Lily Briscoe is forty-four during her second visit to the Ramsay house.

  1. What does Mr. Ramsay demand from Lily?

Ans. Coming towards Lily, Mr. Ramsay looks at her, and she feels that he demands something from her, and this is her sympathy which she could not give him before.

  1. How does Mr. Ramsay rationalise his trip to the Lighthouse?


Ans. Mr. Ramsay tells Lily that he wants to go to the Lighthouse because his wife used to send to the Lighthouse-keeper certain things for his poor sickly boy.

  1. How does Mr. Ramsay make a pathetic spectacle?

Ans. Sighing profoundly Mr. Ramsay tells Lily that a trip to Lighthouse with two of his children is very painful and thus he makes a pathetic spectacle by remembering his dead wife

Part B : Short Questions

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. What is the children’s attitude to their father Mr. Ramsay at the beginning of the novel To the Lighthouse?
  2. How does Mrs. Ramsay show sympathy for the Lighthouse keeper?
  3. Why do the Ramsay children dislike Tansley in To the Lighthouse?
  4. How does Mrs. Ramsay cheer little James up when he is upset by his father’s forecast of bad weather?
  5. What is Mrs. Ramsay’s view of Lily?
  6. Why is Lily Briscoe dissatisfied with her picture?
  7. How is Lily finally able to solve her problems as an artist?
  8. Discuss the role of Mrs. Ramsay as a mother, wife, hostess and friend.
  9. What are Mrs. Ramsay’s views on marriage?
  10. Why is Mr. Ramsay a venerable and laughable man at the same time?


To the Lighthouse Book

Do you find any trace of hypocrisy in  the character of Mr. Ramsay?

  1. Describe the feelings of Lily Briscoe while she explains her painted picture to Mr. Bankes?
  2. What is Mrs. Ramsay’s conjecture about Minta and Paul?
  3. On what occasion does Mrs. Ramsay give vent to her skeptical attitude towards God?.
  4. Can you trace a moment of intimacy between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay?
  5. What does Mrs. Ramsay reflect upon, sitting at the head of the table at the dinner – party?
  6. Why is Mr. Tansley discontented and uneasy at the Dinner – Party?
  7. Why does William Bankes think the Dinner – Party to be a sheer waste of time?
  8. In what sense is the meal at the Dinner – Party display of female creativity in To the Lighthouse?
  9. What is the significance of Part II (Time Passes) of the novel To the Lighthouse?
  10. How does Lily Briscoe reflect on Mr. Ramsay’s demand for sympathy from her?
  11. What revelation does Lily owe to Mrs. Ramsay?
  12. What is Lily idea of a good picture?
  13. How does Lily Briscoe reflect upon relationship of Paul and Minta?
  14. What are the reasons for Lily feeling of triumph over Mrs. Ramsay?
  15. How does Lily Briscoe experience an epiphany at the close of the novel To the Lighthouse?



How is Lily able to have the glimpse of the reality in the novel To the Lighthouse?


To the Lighthouse Book

  1. “He was incapable of untruth; never tampered with a fact; never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all of his own children, who sprung from his loins, should be aware from childhood that life is difficult.”
  2. “But for her own part she would never for a second regret her decision, evade difficulties, single or slur over duties.”
  3. “With her little Chinese eyes and her puckered-up face she would never marry; one could not take her painting very seriously; but she was an independent little creature.”
  4. “He had ridden through the valley of death, been shattered and shivered; and now she flew in the face of facts, made his children hope what was utterly out of the question, in effect, told lies.”
  5. “It was sympathy he wanted, to be assured of his genius, first of all, and then to be taken within the circle of life, warmed and soothed, to have his sense restored to him, his barrenness made fertile, all the rooms of the house made full of life.”
  6. “It was a question, she remembered, how to connect this mass on the right hand with that on the left. She might do it by bringing the line of the branch across so; or break the vacancy in the foreground by an object (James perhaps) so.”
  7. “With her mind she had always seized the fact that there is no reason, order, justice: but suffering death, the poor. There was no treachery too base for the world to commit; she knew that. No happiness lasted; she knew that”.
  8. “She knew that he had nothing whatever to complain of. And he seized her hand and raised it to his lips and kissed it with an intensity that brought the tears to her ids eyes, and quickly he dropped it.”
  9. “And the whole of the effort of merging and flowing and creating rested on her. Again she felt, as a fact without hostility, the sterility of men, for if she did not do it nobody would do it”.
  10. “They did nothing but talk, talk, talk, eat, eat, eat. It was the women’s fault. Woman made civilization impossible with all their charm, all their silliness.”
  11. How trifling it all is, how boring it all is, he thought, compared with the other thing- work. Here he sat drumming his fingers on the table-cloth when he might have been- he took a flashing bird’s-eye view of his work. What a waste of time it all was to be sure!”
  12. “It was the life, it was the power of it, is was the tremendous humour, she know, that made him slap his thighs.”


To the Lighthouse Book

“She was astonishingly beautiful. Her beauty seemed to him, if that were possible, to increase”

  1. “A heartless woman he called her; she never told him that she loved him. But it was not so- it was not so. It was only that she never could say what she felt.



“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”.



“Yes, you were right. It’s going to be wet tomorrow. She had not said it, but he knew it. And she looked at him smiling. For she had triumphed again.”

  1. [Mr. Ramsay stumbling along a passage stretched his arms out one dark morning, but, Mrs Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before, he stretched him arms out. The remained empty.]
  2. “With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done, it was finished. ‘Yes’, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, ‘I have had my vision’.”

Short Notes

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. Interior Monologue
  2. Stream of Consciousness novel
  3. Multiple Point of View
  4. Feminisation of the English Novel
  5. Poetisation of the English Novel
  6. The Setting of To the Lighthouse
  7. Three-part Structure of To the Lighthouse
  8. Epiphany in To the Lighthouse

Part 3 : Broad Questions

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. Discuss the major themes of the novel To the Lighthouse.
  2. Do you find any structural unity in To the Lighthouse?



Discuss the plot-construction of the novel, To the Lighthouse.

  1. Discuss the use of symbols in To the Lighthouse.
  2. Discuss the narrative technique of To the Lighthouse.


To what extent does Virginia Woolf use “the stream of consciousness” technique in To the Lighthouse?

  1. Do you consider To the Lighthouse to be a study of human relationships? Why?
  2. Comment on the treatment of time in To the Lighthouse.
  3. Discuss the art of characterization in To the Lighthouse.
  4. Justify the title of the novel To the Lighthouse.
  5. In what ways are art and life related in the novel To the Lighthouse?



Trace the relation of art and life in the novel To the Lighthouse.

To the Lighthouse Book

  1. In what sense does To the Lighthouse characterize the feminization of the English novel?
  2. Discuss how Mrs. Ramsay is a symbol of the female principle in life.
  3. What impression of Mr. Ramsay do you have from your reading To the Lighthouse?
  4. What is Lily Briscoe’s artistic problem and how is it solved?
  5. Discuss the symbolic significance of the Lighthouse in To the Lighthouse.
  6. Discuss the significance of the dinner-party which takes place in Part I of To the Lighthouse.
  7. How far is Part II “Time Passes” relevant to the action of To the Lighthouse?
  8. What epiphany does Lily Briscoe experience at the close of the novel To the Lighthouse?
  9. What is the significance of the journey to the Lighthouse?
  10. Trace Lily Briscoe’s momentary visions during her painting the portrait of Mrs. Ramsay.
  11. Do you consider To the Lighthouse to be an autobiographical novel? Why?


To The Lighthouse Book – If you have any question on this topic than you also give your feedback using comment section.

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