The mediation of consciousness in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

Wilkinson, David McGrath (2003) The mediation of consciousness in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study sets out to investigate, through close textual analysis, how a reader's conscious involvement both with the characters, and the world that they inhabit, is generated in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse, and how this is maintained through the novel.
Chosen as a prototypical consciousness novel, To The Lighthouse is noted for its complex and difficult narratorial structure and fluid shifts of viewpoint, making it an ideal choice for testing different approaches to the presentation of speech and
thought—both of which must take account of the factor of consciousness. The two models I test are Leech and Short's model, which arranges the various modes of speech and thought along a dine of narratorial control, and a frame-theoretical approach deriving from the work of Werth (1999) and Fludernik (1993, 1996).
After an initial overview of existing research in Chapter One, I move on in Chapters Two and Three to apply these two models. In my analyses of relatively short sections of text, which are discussed in Chapter Two, I found that the more recent
methodologies provided a satisfying extension of Leech and Short's model, and at times a more coherent account that reduces the need to discuss speech and thought in terms of narratorial control. This approach enables the factor of consciousness to be highlighted, while also helping to illuminate how reference can be maintained, and demonstrates how abstract conceptualisation from a reader's own frames serves to generate the broad meaning of the text. My analyses also demonstrate how close textual analysis can identify the dominant frames that operate within a short section of text, and
in Chapter Three I demonstrate how the major frames present, and their development, can be traced through the entire novel.
In this final chapter, I identify what I consider to be the key interpretative frames found in the novel. These I found to be a frame representing a more balanced, artistic and close-focused view of the world that I have, cautiously, called the 'female frame' (although this is a loose term and male characters are also contained within it) and a more strident, emotional and looking to the distance frame that I term the 'male frame'.
I propose that there is textual evidence to suggest that these frames may build on innate characteristics, but are also reinforced and perhaps in some cases created through the biases of society.

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