This thesis deals with metaphors and similes in Virginia Woolf s novel To the Lighthouse. The analysis of metaphors was carried out in two ways. First, a frequency analysis was made of like- and as-similes. Second, a structural analysis was made of the metaphors based on their elements Topic, Vehicle, and Ground. Next there was an analysis of the main themes in the novel, including LIGHT, LOVE, ART, TIME through LIFE and DEATH, SPACE (SEA, WATER, WAVES). Finally, the major characters of the novel were studied in light of figurative tropes.
The theoretical basis for this investigation is both a more traditional structural approach and conceptual metaphor theory. The secondary sources are the works by Goatly, Lakoff and Johnson, and Kövesces. A major issue in this thesis is that one single theory cannot cope with all the aspects of metaphor that arise in a novel like To the Lighthouse. It was found that both Topic and Vehicle can be represented by different parts of speech, denoting and comparing objects as well as abstract things. Grounds specifying either Topic or Vehicle provide additional information for the elements being specified, thus, narrow the comprehension of metaphors.
Virginia Woolf uses metaphors and similes in To the Lighthouse as powerful tools to describe people, thoughts, actions and life processes. Literary metaphors as used by Woolf differ from everyday metaphors in both form and function. The literary metaphors form clusters of figurative tropes contributing to textual cohesion. The figurative tropes in To the Lighthouse are descriptive, innovative and evaluative. There is a line of sequences through the concepts: LIGHT is LIFE which is ART or LOVE even when DEATH comes. The dominant concepts are WATER, WAVES, SEA and LIGHT. The sea and water are given the power over the ground and human beings. The metaphors of LIGHT concept dominate through the context and appear in the company of DEATH concept metaphors.