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Orlando | Quotes

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1.

He had been kissed by a queen without knowing it.


Narrator, Chapter 1

Orlando's good looks, charm, and loyalty earn him Queen Elizabeth I's favor after just a momentary introduction. She gives the family royal property and sets Orlando on a path of extraordinary adventure. Without her help, Orlando most likely would have never left his family's country home and experienced the world.

2.

However open she seemed and voluptuous, there was something hidden.


Narrator, Chapter 1

Male Orlando loves Sasha, but he doesn't fully trust or understand her. He worries that she may not be royalty after all, or maybe she doesn't love him as much as he loves her. When Orlando becomes a woman, she is better able to understand the mysteries behind Sasha's demeanor.

3.

It was the fatal nature of this disease to substitute a phantom for reality.


Narrator, Chapter 2

After Orlando's exile from court, he turns to literature to ease his troubled soul. "This disease" is the love of reading. By losing himself in books, Orlando doesn't have to deal with his past transgressions.

4.

I have done with men.


Orlando, Chapter 2

Orlando is greatly hurt by Nick Greene's humiliating poem and decides animals and nature are far better company than duplicitous humans. Orlando trusts no one except himself.

5.

It looked as if in the process of writing the poem would be completely unwritten.


Narrator, Chapter 2

Orlando's constant revisions to "The Oak Tree" represent the poem's function as a record of Orlando's life. He is always altering it because his situation is always changing.

6.

But men want us no longer, the women detest us.


Purity, Chapter 3

Purity, Chastity, and Modesty, the three virtues of womanhood, try to cover Orlando's figure, which has been transformed into that of a woman. Purity's lament speaks to the changing values of the Georgian period.

7.

The change of sex ... altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity.


Narrator, Chapter 3

Female Orlando looks different from male Orlando, but her thoughts, dreams, and values haven't changed at all. Virginia Woolf is showing how gender does not affect a person's inner self.

8.

If it meant conventionality ... then she would ... set sail once more for the gipsies.


Narrator, Chapter 4

Orlando's realization that life in England will be different as a woman makes her want to return to Turkey, where the gypsies treated men and women pretty much the same. She has no interest in being fettered by British social conventions that silence the opinions and desires of women.

9.

They change our view of the world and the world's view of us.


Narrator, Chapter 4

The narrator is speaking about clothing's effect on the wearer. Orlando finds herself becoming more feminine the longer she wears women's clothing. Though her inner self hasn't changed, her exterior dictates how others treat her and how she responds in turn.

10.

She ... enjoyed the love of both sexes equally.


Narrator, Chapter 4

Male Orlando was attracted to women, and as his inner self did not change when he became a woman, female Orlando is attracted to women, too. Orlando's bisexuality is presented as a matter of fact, not one of scandal or shame. Orlando's approach to sexuality mirrors that of Virginia Woolf, who also had both male and female lovers.

11.

Orlando felt positively ashamed of the second finger on her left hand without ... knowing why.


Narrator, Chapter 5

Orlando's desire to be married is not of her own invention, but rather the pressure of the Victorian era for men and women to pair for life. This concept is so foreign to her that she doesn't realize why she is ashamed until someone explains it to her.

12.

"You're a woman, Shel!" she cried.


Orlando, Chapter 5

Orlando sees a kindred spirit in Shel, whom readers can assume used to be a woman as Orlando used to be a man. At the very least, Orlando understands that she is attracted to Shel not only because he is a man, but because he has some of the feminine qualities to which Orlando has been attracted her entire life.

13.

There was a clap of thunder, so that no one heard the word Obey spoken.


Narrator, Chapter 5

Thunder may have drowned out the word "obey" in Orlando and Shel's marital vows. They also might not have said the word in the first place. Orlando certainly isn't interested in a marriage where she is expected to obey, and she wouldn't have married a man who thinks it is the wife's duty to follow his lead. The omission of this word indicates the equal partnership between husband and wife.

14.

If only subjects ... had more consideration for their biographers!


Narrator, Chapter 6

The narrator has inserted himself into the narrative throughout the novel, but he gets particularly indignant when Orlando is acting altogether too "feminine" for his tastes. He doesn't discuss her year of writing because it doesn't give him anything to write about. He is of the belief that women should write and speak only when the subject is a man, and he finds it difficult to write a biography about a woman, particularly one who doesn't engage in affairs or adventures.

15.

What has praise and fame to do with poetry?


Narrator, Chapter 6

Orlando has wrestled with the idea of fame for most of her life. She wants it, she doesn't want it. When she finally does become famous for "The Oak Tree," she realizes that a poem's fame has very little to do with the quality or the meaning of the poem. Poetry is supposed to be a secret conversation between the author's various selves. It should not matter what others think of it.

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