To the Lighthouse: William Bankes. Nathan Wong Nirupama Suneel IB English HL Period 6. Who is he?. Mr. Bankes is a botanist and a lonely , childless widow.
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“but it seemed to him as if their friendship had ceased, there, on that stretch of road. After that, Ramsay had married. After that, what with one thing and another, the pulp had gone out of their friendship” (14).
Bankes’ used to be close friends with Mr. Ramsay. However, they chose two different paths in life, which caused the cessation of their friendship. He urges Lily not to disparage Ramsay.
“I respect you...in every atom; you are not vain; you are entirely impersonal; you are finer than Mr. Ramsay; you are the finest human being that I know; you have neither wife nor child...you live for science...praise would be an insult to you; generous, pure-hearted, heroic man!” (15).
Lily and Bankes have a non-sexual friendship that transgresses the social norms. Their friendship transcends gender stereotypes and they view each other as equals.
As a result of not having taken the traditional route in life, Mr. Bankes has ended up without a family and taken a divergent road to the one Mr. Ramsay has taken.
“And Mr. Bankes felt aged and saddened and somehow put into the wrong by her about his friendship. He must have dried and shrunk” (14).
Bankes has an avid interest in politics.
“Mr. Bankes took Charles Tansley by the arm and went off to finish on the terrace the discussion they had begun at dinner about politics...hearing a word or two about the policy of the Labour Party” (64).
“he weighed Ramsay’s case, commiserated him, envied him, as if he had seen him divest himself of all those glories of isolation and austerity...it would have been pleasant if Cam had stuck a flower in his coat or clambered in eruption” (14-15).
Bankes pities himself and describes his envy of Mr. Ramsay’s role as a family man. He wishes that he could have had children.
“He seemed to be rather cocksure, this young man; and his manners were bad. But Mr. Bankes bade himself observe, he had courage; he had ability; he was extremely well up in the facts” (54).
Bankes is open minded in his perception of Mr. Tansley, unlike many of the other characters. Although he admits that Tansley is arrogant and overly self confident, Bankes also notes that Tansley has potential.
“He had been to Amsterdam…he had seen the Rembrandts. He had been to Madrid…He had been to Rome. Had Miss Briscoe never been to Rome? Oh, she should – It would be a wonderful experience for her – the Sistine Chapel; Michael Angelo; and Padua, with its Giottos” (42).
Images and symbols of travel explain his adventurousness and cultural exposure.
“William Bankes remembered... By a hen, straddling her wings out in protection of a covey of little chicks” (13).
This is the defining moment when Bankes’ friendship with Ramsay ceases. Ramsay chooses to start a family which is symbolized by the hen and her chicks.