by Virginia Woolf
Orlando Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Such is the indomitable nature of the spirit of the age, however, that it batters down anyone who tries to make stand against it far more effectually than those who bend its own way. Orlando had inclined herself naturally to the Elizabethan spirit, to the Restoration spirit, to the spirit of the eighteenth century, and had in consequence scarcely been aware of the change from one age to the other. But the spirit of the nineteenth century was antipathetic to her in the extreme, and thus it took her and broke her, and she was aware of her defeat at its hands as she had never been before. For it is probable that the human spirit has its place in time assigned to it; some are born of this age, some of that; and now that Orlando was grown a woman, a year or two past thirty indeed, the lines of her character were fixed, and to bend them the wrong way was intolerable. (5.27)
This explains why Orlando feels social pressure for the first time in the Victorian era – it’s a society almost completely in conflict with her own sensibilities. Yet as we will see later, it’s necessary for her to make peace with it.
Many Kings, Queens, and Ambassadors had been received there; Judges had stood there in their ermine. The loveliest ladies of the land had come there; and the sternest warriors. Banners hung there which had been at Flodden and at Agincourt. […] Nicholas Greene, the poet stood there now, plainly dressed in his slouched hat and black doublet, carrying in one hand a small bag. (2.16)
Nick Greene isn't nearly as glamorous as his surroundings. Having been expecting a remarkable-looking person, no wonder Orlando is disappointed.
There was none of that stately composure which makes the faces of the nobility so pleasing to look at; nor had it anything of the dignified servility of a well-trained domestic's face; it was a face seamed, puckered, and drawn together. Poet though he was, it seemed as if he were more used to scold than to flatter; to quarrel than to coo; to scramble than to ride; to struggle than to rest; to hate than to love. This, too, was shown by the quickness of his movements; and by something fiery and suspicious in his glance. Orlando was somewhat taken aback. (2.17)
Nick Greene defies categorization according to the class systems of the day, and he definitely fails to match Orlando’s image of a poet.