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by Virginia Woolf

Orlando Theme of Man and the Natural World

Orlando's first love is nature. When she changes gender and needs to get back to the basics, the first thing she does is travel with a gypsy band to Italy to live amidst the mountains and fields. Nature is Orlando's touchstone for what is important in life. Her struggle as a writer is to find the language appropriate to represent it. Orlando observes early on that green in nature and green in literature are two different things. This distinction, in Orlando's world, proves to be a bad one. She wants to make real green and literary green as close as they can be, using poetic language to evoke what nature is like.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What does nature offer Orlando that human society cannot? How significant of a role does nature play in Orlando’s personal development?
  2. The Turkish landscape and nature have an incredible hold over Orlando, yet (s)he leaves it all to return to his English homeland. Why?
  3. Do you think literature and nature are more in conflict in Orlando, or instead do they complement each other?

Chew on This

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

Literature and nature are completely at odds with one another in Orlando.

Nature is a safe haven for Orlando until she realizes that it cannot engage with her about literature.

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