Windows of Doom: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Spatial and Temporal Forces in To The Lighthouse

Jayme E Collins


In this essay, I refer to the psychoanalytic theories of Lacan and Kristeva to demonstrate how Woolf seeks to rectify an inherent absence within the symbolic order of the domestic sphere by reorienting abject temporal forces to a place within it.  Woolf contrasts the structured space of the domestic sphere with the destructive and regenerative temporal forces of the natural world surrounding it, creating a symbolic juxtaposition between the repressive spatiality of domesticity and the unstructured temporality of nature. However, Woolf’s objective of reunifying the contrary forces of natural, cyclical temporality with structural domesticity ultimately fails as it remains in the realm of abstraction and artistic “vision,” illustrating the impossibility of the liberation of natural life forces within a structural world that does not have room for them.

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Evans, Dylan. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1996. Print

Kristeva, Julia. “Powers of Horror.” The Portable Kristeva. Ed. Kelly Oliver. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. 229-248. Print.

Woolf, Virginia. To The Lighthouse. 1927. Orlando: Harcourt, 1981. Print.

EISSN  1927-4599
University of Victoria