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Read this article to know about the summary and analysis of the novel Orlando written by Virginia Woolf.
Summary of Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Orlando is the protagonist of the novel. The story of Orlando spans over 300 years. Orlando is a young and very attractive noble. His forefathers fought the war and spent their lives in action. Orlando has the ambition to follow the footsteps of his forefathers. But he is bored and slashes the head of the moor tied to the castle.
He is slightly different, clumsy and his main hobby is writing the sonnets. One day he goes to woods to write poetry and falls asleep. He is awakened by the trumpet sound. “Queen Elizabeth” has arrived. He runs home to get ready; he dresses quickly as he is already late to meet the Queen. On his way, he sees a shabby man, who has the divergence of being a poet. He bows down to the dining hall offering the queen a bowl of rose water. He is too shy to look at the Queen.
The Queen is quite impressed with the young boy and does not want him to go to the war. She appoints him as her “Steward Treasure” and showers all her wealth. Orlando started flirting with young girls. The Queen sees him kissing a young girl and get furious. Meanwhile, he does lots of flirting, until he falls in love with a Russian princess Sasha. However, Sasha takes his heart and stomps on it with steel boots and moves back to Russia.
Orlando is heartbroken, he closes himself up in his house and concentrates on writings. A famous poet Nick writes the parody on him. Orlando is upset and burns all his poems and dramas, except the one “The Oak Tree”. King Charles II sends him as an ambassador to Constantinople. He does good work over there.
One morning his servants find him alone in a state of daze, unable to be awakened. Only a marriage certificate is left on the table between Orlando and a Spanish dancer. After seven days he awakes from daze to a woman. She rides away with a Gypsy, the gipsies mistrust her and she leaves them and sails back to England.
On this journey, she becomes romantic with the Captain. Finally, she feels what it is to be a woman. Returning to London she spends time with poets, but she is tired of them and begins spending time with prostitutes. Eighteen Century ends and Nineteenth century begins the “Victorian age”.
Orlando is not too happy as she is quelling, feels the pressure of age. No eligible men are there for her. She takes the help of nature and meets Shel. The two get married. The novel ends with the image of Orlando in her backyard, uncovered her chest and shouting for her husband.
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Analysis of Orlando
Orlando the protagonist has many qualities like a handsome noble, poet, patron of art, ambassador, a temporary coma person, and changes to a woman. Orlando is the primary interest of the narrator. Orlando’s history of his family background, his tradition, his life, his poetic sense is clearly described over here. Orlando’s sex changes in the mid-way of the novel is an important change develops in his character. She starts rebuilding herself, making a female version of Orlando.
In fact, it’s her new discovery of her poetic desires, During the Victorian age, she needs a husband to continue to write. She proves to be a real woman. Orlando winds up and king compromises to her gender. She publishes “The Oak Tree”. Her changes reflect on her writings also. The drama she wrote changes to an epic poem. This also shows her literary style. During the Victorian age, she is a bit unfaithful towards her marriage.
She is in love with nature “Shel” She marries Shel on her own terms. Now Orlando changes into deep, reflective woman. As she passes through many ages and realizes many experiences of lives, she understands that she is a part of nature and not deathless. Finally, by maturing and reaching the middle age, Orlando finds that she has gained everything she was looking for i.e. life and love.