Dialogism and Carnival in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse: A Bakhtinian Reading

Hamed Faizi, Ali Taghizadeh


Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogism in a novel promises the creation of a domain of interactive context for different voices which results in a polyphonic discourse. Instead of trying to suppress each other, the voices of the novel interact upon the other voices in a way that none of them tries to silent the other ones, and each one has the opportunity to express itself. In Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, although some voices attempt to be more dominant, all are allowed to be heard and interact with the other ones. In this way Mrs. Ramsay acts like a link that helps to create a dialogic discourse by respecting the voices of all the other participants. Consequently a carnivalesque narrative discourse is established through which the voices that yield to be dominant, which is mainly Mr. Ramsay’s voice, could not be established as a hierarchical position and even it loses its authoritative position as the other characters attend the dialogue in the context of the novel. The present article will take it to track the policies of dialogism and carnival in Woolf’s novel and to search the production of meaning via the emergence and development of these policies. The activity in it of dialogism is the cause of unfinalizability which is the vital feature of dialogism that allows the permanent operation of dialogue upon the course of time and prevents the establishment of hierarchical positions of power. The article will also take to extrapolate the different phases in the creation of this sense of dialogism in the novel and especially highlighting the role of Mrs. Ramsay in the fabrication of such a sense.

Keywords: Bakhtin, Woolf, To the Light House, Dialogism, Carnivalesque, Unfinalizability

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