Lily Bisley Character Analysis

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Not only does Lily Briscoe break the societal norms of her time period by refusing the idea of marriage, but she goes a step further to engage in a non-sexual, non-romantic relationship with another male character, William Bankes. This is a novel idea for a women in the 1920s. The friendship Lily Briscoe has with William Bankes is not oppressive and degrading the like connections she has with the other males in the story – Mr. Ramsay and Charles Tansley. Instead, the friendship that the two share is mutually supportive and quite amicable. In part one, the audience can see that William Bankes strongly desires for Lily Briscoe to see that he is a male who does belongs to the same generation as Mr. Ramsay, but leads a very different kind of life.…show more content…
William Bankes, though once married and now widowed, does not hold to the same traditional family structure like the Ramsay’s, and is, therefore, not as eager to hold to the typical societal values either. It is because of these characteristics of William Bankes, that he and Lily Briscoe have the friendship that they do. He is able to converse with her about her painting without patronizing her, like Charles Tansley, or suffocating the creativity out of her, like Mr. Ramsay. Out of both the males and the females in the novel, William Bankes is the one who best understands the artistic side of Lily Briscoe. In the third scene Lily remembers a conversation she had with William Bankes about her painting of Mrs. Ramsay and Mrs. Ramsay’s son, James, “But William, she remembered, had listened to her with his wise child’s eyes when she explained how […] a light […] needed a shadow […] and so on […] Thanks to his scientific mind he understood – a proof of disinterested intelligence which had pleased her and comforted her enormously” (Woolf 145). Lily Briscoe can discuss her painting with William Bankes at ease; even the detailed portions of her art, including color and
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