Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "To the Lighthouse Study Guide." Course Hero. 2 Dec. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, December 2). To the Lighthouse Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "To the Lighthouse Study Guide." December 2, 2016. Accessed November 17, 2018.


Course Hero, "To the Lighthouse Study Guide," December 2, 2016, accessed November 17, 2018,

To the Lighthouse | Quotes


It was a thousand pities.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 9

Mr. Ramsay scares Lily Briscoe with his mood swings, and William Bankes consoles her by contemplating Mr. Ramsay's tempestuousness. As he speaks William Bankes reflects on the others Mr. Ramsay harms with his tyrannical nature. Secretly in love with Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Bankes pities Lily who gets caught in the wake of his anger: Mrs. Ramsay who caters to Mr. Ramsay's neediness; the Ramsay children who are subjected to their father's erratic behavior; and himself, who mourns his estranged friendship with Mr. Ramsay and perhaps thinks himself a better partner for Mrs. Ramsay.


The sky stuck to them; the birds sang through them.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 9

As Lily Briscoe watches Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay "being in love," she excitedly witnesses their emotions and how the world appears to revolve around them. Mrs. Ramsay's world certainly does revolve around her, together with her husband. Lily loves and envies them.


A light here required a shadow there.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 9

William Bankes shows interest in the purple triangular shape in Lily Briscoe's painting. Lily says it is Mrs. Ramsay reading to James and explains the process of shading. Harboring romantic feelings for Mrs. Ramsay and scientific-minded, Mr. Bankes is intrigued and questions her representation, but Lily cannot articulate or visualize her intention "without a brush in her hand." Taken at face value, her words pertain to the painting technique; however, beyond their literal meaning, she may be referring both to multiple perspectives and to balance (what eludes her in the composition), indicating that something dark is countered by contrasting lightness, or more broadly a negative by a positive, or opposing condition.


She could be herself, by herself.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 11

Mildred takes James from Mrs. Ramsay. Because of the roles she has assumed for herself, because of the way others see and need her, and because her external life conflicts with her internal life, Mrs. Ramsay takes great pleasure in the few minutes she has to be alone and not playing a part.


[S]he made him believe that he could do whatever he wanted. He had felt her eyes on him all day today, following him about (though she never said a word) as if she were saying, "Yes, you can do it. I believe in you. I expect it of you."

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 14

After Paul Rayley proposes to Minta Doyle, he wants to tell Mrs. Ramsay, who encouraged him. His thoughts reveal the power Mrs. Ramsay has over others. Her positive energy and wordless encouragement lead others to do as she believes they should, for better or worse. Even if not all follow Mrs. Ramsay's ideas, her influence affects them deeply, and they believe in her love.


He went to the heart of things.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 17

At dinner Charles Tansley and William Bankes discuss a political issue. Bored and drained from keeping the conversation going among her guests, Mrs. Ramsay hopes her husband will contribute something of his sharp political insights. But as she admires his knowledge, he disappoints her with silence and an angry scowl because Augustus Carmichael has asked for more soup.


Everything seemed possible. Everything seemed right.

Narrator, The Window, Chapter 17

During dinner Mrs. Ramsay, seeing how much William Bankes and Lily Briscoe have in common, regrets not seating them next to each other. She plans to arrange a walk or picnic for them the following day. She is matchmaking again and once again, shortsighted and mistaken in her ideas about the two characters. Independent Lily has little interest in marriage, and William Bankes is in love with Mrs. Ramsay. This observation parallels her influence in Paul Rayley's and Minta Doyle's engagement.


Life stand still here.

Mrs. Ramsay, The Lighthouse, Chapter 3

When Mrs. Ramsay choreographs a moment on the beach in which Charles Tansley and Lily Briscoe share a friendly moment skipping stones, she wants to remember it. The statement is important because Mrs. Ramsay does not want time to pass; she does not want her children to get older or for anything to change.


They're happy like that; I'm happy like this. Life has changed completely.

Narrator, The Lighthouse, Chapter 5

Lily Briscoe mourns Mrs. Ramsay, reflecting on the distance she feels between her life and her friend's "old-fashioned" beliefs. She imagines someone trying to update her on all that has occurred in the last decade. Seeing the distance between Mrs. Ramsay and herself, Lily is able to accept who she is.


Love had a thousand shapes.

Narrator, The Lighthouse, Chapter 11

Lily Briscoe ponders the "feeling of completeness" that inspired her a decade ago when she began the painting and fell in love with everything around her at the Ramsays' home. Her statement reflects the many ways that love, as well as other emotions, can be felt, understood, and expressed.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about To the Lighthouse? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!