Orlando's character is a tool to expose the shallowness of social life and its restrictions. Being of high birth, Orlando has a lot of social mobility, and can move freely amongst both the upper and lower classes. As a woman in England, she experiences the high excitement of London society – until she realizes that it is essentially hollow and insubstantial. Woolf also raises the issue of gender and class. It turns out that, when Orlando's a man, he has a thing for women of lower classes that gets him in trouble with his patron, Queen Elizabeth. But there's a neat reversal later in the novel, when female Orlando befriends London prostitutes whom she might have patronized when she was a guy. Together, they form a community of women that operates outside hollow London high society.
Orlando refuses to capitulate to society’s demands, but instead negotiates with them.