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by Virginia Woolf

Orlando Theme of Literature and Writing

Orlando? He (and then she) is a writer. Everything else is subordinate to this first aspect of his identity. But Orlando's ability to write depends on social conditions and on her relations with people around her. In a way, this novel works as a dramatization of Virginia Woolf's1929 essay on women and writing, "A Room of One's Own," which argues that a woman requires a steady income and a room of her own to be able to write. In other words, it's not just a matter of natural talent – even Shakespeare's sister would need economic freedom and leisure time to produce anything. And English women didn't regularly have either of those things, argues Woolf, until the late 19th/early 20th centuries. This is right around the time that Orlando is getting busy with writing. Coincidence? We think not.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Do Orlando’s literary aspirations change over the course of the novel? If yes, then how so?
  2. How does Orlando’s writing style change over the course of this novel? Could this possibly reflect larger changes in his (or her) character?
  3. In Chapter Six, why do you think Orlando chooses not to bury "The Oak Tree"?
  4. What’s the effect of not including excerpts from "The Oak Tree"?

Chew on This

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

In Orlando, nature is the perfect subject for literary endeavors as it is almost impossibly complex and difficult to capture.

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