Literature Study GuidesTo The LighthouseTime Passes Chapter 5 Summary

To the Lighthouse | Study Guide

Virginia Woolf

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Course Hero, "To the Lighthouse Study Guide," December 2, 2016, accessed July 18, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/To-the-Lighthouse/.

To the Lighthouse | Time Passes, Chapter 5 | Summary

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Summary

Approximately 70, Mrs. McNab cleans the house, singing an old popular song wondering, "how long it shall endure?" She stands smiling and cleaning and continues life "as before," drinking and gossiping.

Analysis

This chapter reflects the barrenness of the house and the mortality of its inhabitants. Mrs. McNab can be seen as almost a grotesque reflection, or even ghostly parody, of Mrs. Ramsay. For beautiful, class-conscious Mrs. Ramsay her home was a sanctuary; she fussed over her children and guests who loved her warmth and hospitality. Not vain, Mrs. Ramsay was aware of her beauty but spent little time in front of mirrors.

Now, alone in the house and cleaning under unused beds and in corners, the elderly, worn-out caretaker, Mrs. McNab, attends to the house. Old Mrs. McNab thinks of the tedium of life and sees her ravaged image in the glass, what Mrs. Ramsay always feared. She thinks of her own children and her life, without joy, and not as Mrs. Ramsay would think of her own life and children.

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