Time is elongated and compressed through a different way, the time in To the Lighthouse is divided in to three significant parts: “The Window”, “Time Passes” and “The Lighthouse”. The time in To The Lighthouse is described by Woolf as “Two blocks joined by a corridor”.
The first block is known as “The Window” that takes place before the First World War in the Ramsay’s summer home on the Isle of Skye in Hebrides where they spent the holidays with their children and several houseguests. The novel has no formal introduction, it immediately starts in a middle of a conversation: “‘Yes, of course, if it is fine to-morrow,’ said Mrs. Ramsay” (Woolf 7) the readers are left with a mystery of what the exact question is. James, the youngest child of the Ramsays wants to visit the lighthouse, his mother Mrs. Ramsay assures his son to go to the lighthouse if the weather will be cooperative but Mr. Ramsay thinks the weather will not allow it. The span of the first part of the novel starts during one afternoon and ends in the evening which actually takes most of the pages of the novel. The corridor known as “Time Passes” continues the same evening as the characters are heading to sleep.
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The next few pages that follow covers ten years in the life of the Ramsays. During this time, three people passed away. Prue died due to childbirth, the war occurred and the eldest son Andrew died during battle and the sudden death of Mrs. Ramsay. The summerhouse is abandoned and left to decay for nearly a decade until they finally decide to return.
“The Lighthouse” is the last part of the novel similar to “The Window that takes place in a day. James have finally reached the lighthouse and Lily finally finishes her painting. “The present when backed by the past is a thousand times deeper than the present when it presses so close that you can feel nothing else.
” (Woolf) These distortions in time enables the story to be arranged in a unique way for the readers to try to get to know each of the characters true nature. Another way of introducing the characters and reconnecting them is through the multiple and shifting perspectives of each characters.Multiple and shifting perspectives used by Virginia Woolf to narrate the story is a unique way of how she builds up each character’s personality throug