“The Horrors of Family Life”

A Feminist Interrogation of the Politics of Codependence in To the Lighthouse
  • Jane Lilienfeld


Currently there is little disagreement among many North American scholars that Virginia Woolf’s family of origin was dysfunctional.1 The Anglo-Indian family system in which Julia Stephen, Virginia Woolf’s mother, spent a chaotic childhood and adolescence adversely affected her self-care abilities, encouraging her to develop an exaggerated devotion to the needs of others at the expense of herself. Julia Stephen’s response to her mother’s chronic illness—an illness, I will suggest, which may have been exacerbated rather than relieved by a use of opium-derived drugs—predisposed Julia Stephen to a life of compliance in an extremely patriarchal household and society.


Family Life Family System Survival Skill Dinner Party Narrative Strategy 


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Copyright information

© Jane Lilienfeld 1999

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  • Jane Lilienfeld

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