Understanding Our Visualizations

While there are some slight differences between the editions of To the Lighthouse presented in the different sections of this website, they all share a basic visual vocabulary.

All visualizations on this site refer to the same phenomenon: character speech.

Consider the following example.

"Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow," said Mrs. Ramsay. "But you'll have to be up with the lark," she added.

In this passage, the opening paragraph of the To the Lighthouse, three elements of visualization indicate the reader’s interpretation of character speech: background colour/pattern, outline, and font face.

The background colour/pattern indicates the character whose words are being introduced. On the left hand side of every edition, we supply of a list of characters, each with their distinctive background pattern indicated (see image directly below). In the case of our example, the background pattern of both passages of character speech indicate Mrs. Ramsay. Thus, we know that the interpreter believes that the words introduced in these passages belong to Mrs. Ramsay.

Image of the Voice bar on the left hand of every page

The Voices bar on the left-hand side of every edition, which indicates the background colour/pattern corresponding to every character.

The outline indicates either direct, indirect, or free indirect discourse. In the case of our example, the solid blue outlining indicates that the interpreter believes Mrs. Ramsay’s words to have been introduced via direct discourse.

The font face indicates whether the character speech is aloud or silent. Bold face indicates words spoken aloud, and italics indicate words thought silently. Here, the bold font indicates that the interpreter believes Mrs. Ramsay’s direct discourse is spoken aloud.

Passages without a background colour, outline, or bold/italic font face indicate spans where the interpreter believes that no character speech is being introduced. In other words, these plain, unformatted passages simply present the narrator’s voice, not the voice of any character. In this passage, the interpreter has indicated that the phrases “said Mrs. Ramsay” and “she added” belong to the narrator.

Note that each of our editions allow you to toggle these features. Clicking on the boxes beside character names and textual features will cause those particular visualizations to be hidden or shown. This can help you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Image showing the readout that appears when one hovers over an interpretation

The popup that appears when one hovers over a span of interpreted text, giving a full textual explanation of that interpretation.

Note also that hovering over any particular span of interpretation will cause a small popup to appear offering a full textual explanation of the interpretation in question (see image immediately above).

In some cases you will notice that intepretations embed the speech of one character within that of another, as in the image below:

Image of the Voice bar on the left hand of every page

Mr. Ramsay’s speech embedded within James’s.

Here, a passage presenting Mr. Ramsay’s aloud direct discourse is embedded within a passage of James’s silent FID. This indicates that the interpreter believed that during a span in which the narrator had taken us into James’s thoughts via FID, James then quoted the words of his father, using direct discourse.