Sunday, February 6, 2011

To the Lighthouse- Virginia Woolf


To the Light House by Virginia Woolf is a novel that reflects the impermanence of life and focuses more on thoughts and the inner workings of the characters rather than their actions. It follows the life of the Ramsay family and their various friends and is separated into three parts, "The Window", "Time Passes", and "The Lighthouse". The first part of the story begins with the words of the youngest child who wants desperately to go to the lighthouse which is close to their summer house. His father, however, is a realist and informs him that the weather will not permit that. Mr. Ramsay is a philosopher and spends his entire life on intellectual pursuits. Throughout the novel, Mr. Ramsay's complete focus on these pursuits and his need for his own intelligence to establish his own worth and give meaning to life contrast Mrs. Ramsay who needs her family and friends for that. Another big character that is introduced during this book is an Asian painter named Lily who paints pictures of the family. Instead of using intellect or family, Lily relies on her paintings to preserve memories and give meaning to her life. The rest of the novel focuses mainly on these three characters and their thoughts and feelings. Mr. Ramsay continues to seek knowledge but is ever plagued by the knowledge that fame and reputation are fleeting and that the will eventually fade. Mrs. Ramsay continues to focus on the family and constantly has to reassure her husband of his intelligence when he doubts himself. Lily, despite Mrs. Ramsay's efforts, refuses to marry, thereby representing a new and evolving social order, one in which a woman is not defined by her husband.
By the final part in the book, many things have happened and even more has changed. Mrs. Ramsay and two of her children are dead, leaving the rest of the family incomplete. Mrs. Ramsay's death left the family desolate and lost, but it also led them to new understanding and brought the surviving members closer together. The story ends with Lily completing a painting of Mrs. Ramsay that she started at the beginning of the novel.

Discussion:

1) What establishes a persons worth? Is it their intelligence, their friends, or something else?

2) Woolf's novel presents the idea that their is no such thing as objective reality and that reality is merely a collection of subjective views. DO you think that this belief is correct?

26 comments:

Justin B. 11-12 said...

2) This belief is completely and utterly ridiculous and this can be shown in a variety of complicated ways but I will focus on the ones that are the easiest to comprend. First, there is the "Stool Example." In this example there is a stool that I say and truly believe is red, then you come along and say and truly believe that it is green. Who is right? Well in the real (objective) world we would get second opinions and whatnot to prove it's either red or green but in a subjective reality this doesn't work because color is subjective right? Well it turns out that it doesn't matter. Let me explain (remember that in a subjective reality "you" are just a figment of "my" imagination and thus subject to "my" rules), if everything was subjective then the result of me believing the stool is red and you believing the stool is green would result in the stool effectively having no color (but it does...I know bear with me) because one person (or disembodied conscience or w/e in a subjective reality) cannot believe two opposing ideas to both be true at the same time, which is what would be happening here if reality was subjective. Therefore, one of us must be right, thus showing the existence of an objective reality.

Also, if it really was a subjective reality it would be impractical to live like is was an objective reality. Think about it, if reality were subjective what is the point of walls, floors, airplanes, and every technological advance that humans have ever created. No matter how much I believe that reality is subjective I will never be able to phase through a concrete wall or teleport to Big Sky, Montana (skiing on the brain :). The fact that no one can do these things and has never been able to do these things lends more support for an objective reality existing.

(If reality was subjective what is the point in blogging when I can just believe that I will get the points...)

Eric M. 11-12 said...

A persons worth should be a combination of things. What kind of person they are, what skills they have, and who they associate with should all judge their worth because those are variables someone can control. To pick only one would be one dimensional and to base it off something such as heritage would be unfair because it's out of their control.

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I agree with Eric, I think a persons worth is a collection of things, not just their intelligence or looks.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

I agree with everyone that a person is not just intelligent or good looking. They are much more. Many people judge others on looks or personality. A person is represented by the people they associate with, their family ties, the way they treat others, and much more. Their morals are a huge part of them. People can get by in life without good looks or being incredibly intelligent.

LeahS11-12 said...

I believe that a person's worth should be established by how good of a person they are, what they manage to accomplish, and most importantly how they see themselves. Although some people have difficulty seeing their positives and negatives, they ultimately determine their worth and have the ability to change it.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I don’t believe that a person really carries a worth per se. I think that what gives a person worth is the people in which they affect throughout their lives. The people they leave behind and the changes they had made. You could have all the intelligence you want but what good is it if you do nothing with it or have no loved ones? Every human being has some amount of worth but the amount can vary with the deeds they have done almost like karma. If you impact the Earth positively and help people in times of trouble, they will not forget you and I believe this increases your worth. It may sound cheesy but I think your worth is equal to the love you have.

In terms of todays society, I think a person's worth is going to be more shallow.

Steve S 13-14 said...

I like the example Justin gave, for something to EXIST in our world, there has to be a reality to it. And a person's worth, isn't decided by any outside factor. We as human beings must decide on our own worth based on our experiences throughout our lives. No one factor aside from yourself can determine you worth

SeanK56 said...

A persons worth I believe is determined by their benefit to society. Whether it be intelligence, performing, or being a charitable person, how you affect others positively determines worth.

Sydney C.13-14 said...

Worth is defined as the qualities that render something desirable. By establishing a persons worth, that person is judged on their attitude, their background, lifestyle and their overall impact on society.

I believe there is a definitive reality present in our world, but that not everything falls within that reality. There is a grey area on what can be judged subjectively and what are the hard facts.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

A persons worth is established by their intelligence, as well as personality, family, friends, and even looks. A persons worth means something different in peoples' eyes. To me it may mean personality or family, but to a scientist or researcher, it's probably intelligence.

Kristen R. 11-12 said...

To answer the first question, I agree with what has been previously stated. I believe that what establishes a person's worth is a combination of things. Like Bojana said, I think it depends on who is evaluating a person's worth. Just as in relationships, everyone obtains different standards for what they deem to be ideal. For instance, for actors and actresses, a person's worth is determined largely based on their connections with people, their physical appearances and their wealth. To answer the second question, I disagree with the novel's presentation of the idea that objective reality does not exist. If it did not exist, nothing could be said to be true which is not possible. Many things in life cannot be sujectively viewed. If something is fact, it is objective reality; it cannot be argued against.

CorinneS5/6 said...

I think that a persons worth is determined by many factors but mostly by how they affect the lives of others. If they do alot of good and bring happiness to other people and themselves this increases their worth. Thi scan be done through multiple paths however such as one's intelligence or one's friendships.

On the subject of reality I believe that it is objective and that there are not multiple things happening at once but I also believe that everyone percieves reality deifferently nad htis gives it the feel of subjectiveness when compared to other peoples perceptions of the same event.

MaryL11-12 said...

I think a persons worth is mostly based on the morals they have and the respect they have for themselves, which is demonstrated by the actions and choices they make. How can someone who doesn't treat themselves with any respect expect others to regard them highly?

I think that when it comes to reality, there are a million different ways to explain how or what everything is. I believe that things are they way they are, but that people interpret them in different ways. So in a sense I suppose I believe in both of those ideas.

Vanessa D. 13-14 said...

1.) To answer the first question, I feel that worth should be determined by the individual, because at the end of the day the only opinion of oneself that matters is their own. If someone feels good about themselves, they will feel like they are worth more than if they feel badly about themselves.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

I agree withe evryone, a person's worth is a combination of all things, not just intelligence, or friends, or etc. It is how they view themselves not that others think of them and it is the kind of person they are that they can make themselves to be

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

To answer question 1, I agree with what has been previously mentioned. A person's worth consists of a combination of many things. A person's worth may also be seen differently by different people as Bojana mentioned. The important thing about this is that one must see himself worthy before he can expect others to see the same thing. This worth comes from different aspects because a person is not defined by one particular trait such as intelligence or popularity. Some people may be known more for one thing over another, but many different aspects go in to making a person unique. Once this person can accept himself for who he is and be confident about his own worth, then others will recognize his worth as well.

Kali D. 13-14 said...

1. I agree with everyone on question one. I think what establishes a person's worth is a mix of things, including intelligence, friends and family and personality. Who you put yourself around and how you act in the world defines who you are.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

I think a persons worth is determined by the people that know them best. Those that know the person, and know what theyre all about, can pass judgment on them and establish their "worth". By doing so, they are clarifing as to how much that person means to society.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

I believe a person's worth is made up of many different qualities. One single quality, such as intelligence, only incorporates part of a person. I believe a person of the greatest worth has the qualities of intelligence, loyalty, honesty, and personality.

Eric Y 13-14 said...

I believe a person's worth is made up of many different qualities. One single quality, such as intelligence, only incorporates part of a person. I believe a person of the greatest worth has the qualities of intelligence, loyalty, honesty, and personality.

Ashley A. 11-12 said...

I agree with what everyone has said about a person's worth being made up of many different things. I also think that different people value different things, and that may change how they judge other peoples' worth.
I think there is a concrete reality because there are some things that can't be argued that everyone accepts as a fact. Howerver, there are also many things in life that can be viewed subjectively so that different people can have different opinions of the same concept or object.

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

I think a person's worth is a combination of the three. A person must have a sense of self worth, and what makes themm worth something and respect themselves, and also something that makes them useful and of worth to the rest of society. For me, I think that I could say my worth to myself is being a highly sensitive person who understands and breathes the emotion that I can feel from other people. It allows me to detect certain things, pick up on certain actions before they occur, and know more about a person than they could ever imagine without me ever having said one word to them. My worth to society? I think I would say my intelligence. I am highly intellectual and driven, and I can do anything I set my mind to or something that someone else asks me to do. I can go far, and this makes me of worth to a company or organization that needs me.

Richard B. said...

To answer question one, one cannot assign worth to another human. If anything, the ability to not assign worth to a fellow human makes a person what they're worth. However, if any one thing was assigned to a person's worth, it would definitely have to be love: how well one gives and receives love.

James F (11-12) said...

1.a persons worth is a combination of all of those things. intelligence is the most important because being an intellectual gets you places in life. friends shows how you do in social situations and there are multiple things along with those two.
2.reality in my opinion is just what is happening in the moment. reality has to be happening if its not and its just an idea for example then it would be figurative.

KatherineS13-14 said...

1) A person's worth is dependent on a large combination of things. Not only their intelligence, and personality, but also social class and friends play a part in a person's worth.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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