by Virginia Woolf
Orlando Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The comforts of ignorance seemed utterly denied her. She was a feather blown on the gale. Thus it is no great wonder, as she pitted one sex against the other, and found each alternately full of the most deplorable infirmities, and was not sure to which she belonged--it was no great wonder that she was about to cry out that she would return to Turkey and become a gipsy again… (4.8)
Knowing what it’s like to be both sexes, Orlando becomes confused and longs for her androgynous life among the gipsies.
'Better is it', she thought, 'to be clothed with poverty and ignorance, which are the dark garments of the female sex; better to leave the rule and discipline of the world to others; better be quit of martial ambition, the love of power, and all the other manly desires if so one can more fully enjoy the most exalted raptures known to the humane spirit, which are', she said aloud, as her habit was when deeply moved, 'contemplation, solitude, love.' (4.11)
In one thought, Orlando delineates how feminine compliance to male domination comes with certain rewards. Does she really believe this?
And as all Orlando's loves had been women, now, through the culpable laggardry of the human frame to adapt itself to convention, though she herself was a woman, it was still a woman she loved; and if the consciousness of being of the same sex had any effect at all, it was to quicken and deepen those feelings which she had had as a man. For now a thousand hints and mysteries became plain to her that were then dark. Now, the obscurity, which divides the sexes and lets linger innumerable impurities in its gloom, was removed, and if there is anything in what the poet says about truth and beauty, this affection gained in beauty what it lost in falsity. At last, she cried, she knew Sasha as she was, and in the ardour of this discovery, and in the pursuit of all those treasures which were now revealed, she was so rapt and enchanted that it was as if a cannon ball had exploded at her ear…(4.11)
Being a woman now gives Orlando insights into the feminine character. Thinking over her relationship with Sasha, she comes to new conclusions about Sasha’s motivations and character. What do you think she learned about Sasha? Also, was it necessary for Orlando to become a woman in order to clearly see Sasha’s character?