To the Lighthouse Themes

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War

In To the Lighthouse, the Great War takes place during the "Time Passes" section. The structure of the novel reflects the impact of World War I on European society. Part One is set in the golden haze of prewar innocence and love. Mr. Ramsay entertains himself by reciting Lord Tennyson's poem The Charge of the Light Brigade, a poem about death during the Crimean War, which valorizes the heroism of the then-unprecedented loss of a cavalry unit. Tennyson's celebration of patriotism and glorious death would be rejected by the traumatized survivors of the Great War who had witnessed death on a scale unimaginable to the Victorian poet. As Wilfred Owen wrote, World War I ended "that great lie—Dulce et decorum est pro pa-tria mori [it is sweet and proper to die for one's country]." Owen himself would not make it home from the war.

During the middle...

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This section contains 1,093 words
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To the Lighthouse from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.