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by Virginia Woolf

Orlando Theme of Life, Creation, and Existence

Always a theme with Virginia Woolf. And not in subtle ways, either. At one point Orlando explicitly wants "life and a lover." Orlando’s journey throughout the novel oscillates between a desire to die and a desire to live. The character experiences many highs and lows throughout the novel, and must confront the difficulties of reconciling past and present, the constraints of gender, and the demands of society.

Questions About Life, Creation, and Existence

  1. What role does Orlando’s son play in the novel? Why doesn’t the book talk about him more?
  2. Why does the biographer attempt to answer the question, "What is life?" and then tell us (s)he doesn’t know? Why is "What is life?" a relevant question for this book?
  3. Why is death in Orlando most closely associated with nature?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Orlando deliberately crafts a novel about life, creation, and existence that does not rely on the standard themes of great deeds or love, but rather upon life as an intellectual enterprise.

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