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Orlando

Orlando

by Virginia Woolf

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

The names were different, of course, but the spirit was the same. Nick Greene had not changed, for all his knighthood. And yet, some change there was. […] He had grown plump; but he was a man verging on seventy. He had grown sleek: literature had been a prosperous pursuit evidently; but somehow the old restless, uneasy vivacity had gone. His stories, brilliant as they were, were no longer quite so free and easy. (6.29)

There is an essential spirit that does not alter even if centuries have passed.

Quote #11

Perhaps; but what appeared certain (for we are now in the region of 'perhaps' and ‘appears') was that the one she needed most kept aloof […] --as happens when, for some unaccountable reason, the conscious self, which is the uppermost, and has the power to desire, wishes to be nothing but one self. This is what some people call the true self, and it is, they say, compact of all the selves we have it in us to be; commanded and locked up by the Captain self, the Key self, which amalgamates and controls them all. Orlando was certainly seeking this self as the reader can judge from overhearing her talk as she drove. (6.73)

Although Orlando has many different selves, she has only one true self. Is she one true self by the end of the novel? How can we tell?

Quote #12

'What then? Who then?' she said. 'Thirty-six; in a motor-car; a woman. Yes, but a million other things as well. A snob am I? The garter in the hall? The leopards? My ancestors? Proud of them? Yes! Greedy, luxurious, vicious? Am I? (here a new self came in). Don't care a damn if I am. Truthful? I think so. Generous? Oh, but that don't count (here a new self came in). […] Trees, she said. (Here another self came in.) I love trees (she was passing a clump) growing there a thousand years. And barns (she passed a tumbledown barn at the edge of the road). And sheep dogs (here one came trotting across the road. She carefully avoided it). And the night. But people (here another self came in). People? (She repeated it as a question.) I don't know. Chattering, spiteful, always telling lies. (Here she turned into the High Street of her native town, which was crowded, for it was market day, with farmers, and shepherds, and old women with hens in baskets.) I like peasants. I understand crops. (6.74)

Look at how Woolf uses a combination of telling and showing to convey Orlando’s multiple selves and how they interact. This is a great example of stream of consciousness – as Orlando drives down a street, various images spark new selves and new memories.

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