by Virginia Woolf
Orlando Life, Creation, and Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
'How good to eat!'
(The gipsies have no word for 'beautiful'. This is the nearest.)
All the young men and women burst out laughing uproariously. The sky good to eat, indeed! The elders, however, who had seen more of foreigners than they had, became suspicious. They noticed that Orlando often sat for whole hours doing nothing whatever except look here and then there; they would come upon her on some hill-top staring straight in front of her, no matter whether the goats were grazing or straying. They began to suspect that she had other beliefs than their own, and the older men and women thought it probable that she had fallen into the clutches of the vilest and cruellest among all the Gods, which is Nature. Nor were they far wrong. (3.47 – 3.49)
The gipsies and Orlando live their lives by fundamentally different philosophies.
Slowly, she began to feel that there was some difference between her and the gipsies which made her hesitate sometimes to marry and settle down among them for ever. At first she tried to account for it by saying that she came of an ancient and civilized race, whereas these gipsies were an ignorant people, not much better than savages. […] Then she was seized with a shame that she had never felt before. It was clear that Rustum and the other gipsies thought a descent of four or five hundred years only the meanest possible. Their own families went back at least two or three thousand years. (3.52)
In addition to living their lives by fundamentally different philosophies, Orlando and the gipsies have no problem judging each other for their outlooks on life.
Then, some strange ecstasy came over her […] 'I have found my mate,' she murmured. 'It is the moor. I am nature's bride,' she whispered, giving herself in rapture to the cold embraces of the grass as she lay folded in her cloak in the hollow by the pool. […] Ah!' she sighed, pressing her head luxuriously on its spongy pillow, 'I have sought happiness through many ages and not found it; fame and missed it; love and not known it; life--and behold, death is better. […]
'Madam,' the man cried, leaping to the ground, 'you're hurt!'
'I'm dead, sir!' she replied. (5.33 – 5.35)
Orlando is ready to give herself up to nature – i.e., ready for death, when Shelmerdine finds her. Viewed this way, Shel is Orlando’s savior.