Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
One day in 1588, young Orlando is slashing at the head of a Moor tied to the rafters in his ancestral castle. His forefathers had been of noble rank for centuries and had lived out their lives in action, but Orlando is inclined toward writing. Bored by his play in the attic, he goes to his room and writes for a while on his poetic drama, “Aethelbert: A Tragedy in Five Acts.” Tiring of poetry before long, he runs outdoors and up a nearby hill, where he throws himself down under his favorite oak tree and lets himself fall into a contemplative reverie.
Orlando is still lying there when he hears trumpet calls announcing the arrival of Queen Elizabeth. He hurries to the castle to dress in his finest clothes and then dashes toward the banquet hall. On the way, he notices a shabbily dressed man in the servants’ quarters, a man who looks like a poet, but he has no time to stop. The man’s image is to haunt him the rest of his life. Reaching the banquet hall, Orlando kneels before the queen and offers a bowl of rose water for her to wash her hands after her journey. Elizabeth is so impressed with the boy that she deeds a great house to his father. Two years later, she summons Orlando to court, where in time he is made her treasurer and steward. One day, however, she sees Orlando kissing a lady of the court and becomes so angry that Orlando loses her royal favor.
Orlando has many adventures with women. He decides to marry at the time of the Great...
(The entire section is 1207 words.)
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