Orlando Questions and Answers
by Virginia Woolf

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How do we, as readers, perceive the event of gender change in Orlando?How does orlando interprets this change?

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Along with the narrator, we laugh and smile, for that is where she guides it.  Tne novel is nothing if not funny, a piece that I personally laugh aloud everytime I pick it up. The narrator is always making fun of something. The work is satire, but there are passages that are very intense concerning the meaning of gender. For example, the narrator says, “No passion is stronger in the breast of man than the desire to make others believe as he believes" (136).  Yet that same passage lightens up considerably, refusing to allow Orlando to take himself/herself too seriously, for it is a playful book: “Each seeks peace of mind and subserviency rather than the triumph of truth and exaltation of virtue—But these moralities belong, and should be left to the historian, since they are as dull as ditch water” (137). And the images of Orlando are funny, too. It opens with “He—for there could be doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters” (13), is hyperbole at its best, for “Orlando was a trifle clumsy” (17). Orlando tends to remain rather “serene” (25) throughout the novel, accepting the changes as a matter of course and, like the aristocrat Vita Sackville-West upon whom he is modeled, ready to do exactly as he wished with apologies to no one.

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