Literature Study GuidesTo The LighthouseThe Window Chapter 19 Summary

To the Lighthouse | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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To the Lighthouse | The Window, Chapter 19 | Summary



Forgetting what she wanted, Mrs. Ramsay sits and begins knitting. Mr. Ramsay reads. Reflecting on the poem he recited at dinner ("A Garden Song" by Charles Elton), she reads "The Sirens' Song" by William Browne, "zigzagging" down the page. Their eyes meet, but they avoid talking.

Mr. Ramsay decides success in thought does not matter, "A great man, a great book, fame—who could tell?" He refrains from complaining to Mrs. Ramsay, who looks "peaceful." Aware of his gaze, she asks for—if it isn't a bother—more quiet time. He smiles at her, admiring her beauty, but exaggerating her "ignorance" and "simplicity, for he liked to think that she was not ... book-learned at all."

Finished reading, she tells him about Minta Doyle and Paul Rayley's engagement, which he suspected. They sit, silent. Wishing for him to speak, she jokes about Paul's watch, which amuses him.

He tells her she won't finish the stocking. She agrees, realizing he wants her to tell him she loves him, a struggle for her. She stands at the window, watching the sea. He watches her. Turning to him, smiling, she tells him he was right; they won't be able to go to the lighthouse. She smiles at her success of showing him her love without having to verbalize it.


Many of the day's conflicts are resolved by the last chapter of "The Window": Mrs. Ramsay, at the moment, likes Charles Tansley; Minta and Paul, engaged, have returned with Nancy and Andrew Ramsay; Lily Briscoe has resolved not to marry and has decided to move the tree in her painting, giving her more understanding of the painting's subject; the lighthouse trip is settled. What remains are Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay's tensions and the confirmation that they love each other as they are.

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