Study Guide

Orlando Marriage

By Virginia Woolf


We have a utopian model for a marriage presented in Orlando between Shel and Orlando. Both are androgynous and free-spirited, and neither seems to exert authority over the other. Woolf seems to believe that marriage is a kind of necessary evil, something that is more meaningful socially than spiritually. That said, she seems to argue that we can make the best of it by marrying people we really love. The best part of such an unconventional marriage appears to be, for Orlando, the fact that it's not restrictive sexually: she enjoys being able to love other people while still having the social privileges of marriage.

Questions About Marriage

  1. How would you characterize Orlando’s marriage to Shel?
  2. Rosina Pepita is quite a mysterious figure in the novel. Do you have any theories on why she and Orlando got hitched? Or why she is never meaningfully mentioned after Orlando becomes a woman?
  3. To what extent is Orlando merely conforming to the spirit of the age by getting married and to what extent is marriage actually good for her?

Chew on This

Orlando’s marriage to Rosina Pepita is just one example of his unconventional desires.