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Written by Micola Magdalena
In the first chapter of the novel, the narrator presents the effect the image of London watched from afar has on Orlando. For him, that image is linked with his poetic inspiration and it evokes in him certain feelings like happiness and contempt.
The description the narrator offers about Orlando doesn’t create the image of a masculine man, but rather an androgynous person. He is described as having soft features that go hand in hand with his personality and a grace that will more suitable for a woman. Because of these characteristics, he attracts the attention of those around him who are intrigued by his physical appearance.
While Orlando is described as being almost a female, Sasha, a Russian princess is the complete opposite. When Orlando first sees her, he is unsure whether the figure he sees is a man or a woman but Orlando is attracted by the power and grace the figure skating on the lake exhibits. For him, the image he associates with Sasha is that of a powerful person, something that he isn’t. Because of this, the description the narrator offers about Sasha is important because it represents everything that Orlando isn’t.
Orlando is often described as being melancholic and contemplating life in unusual places. He sits on hills outside major cities or among graves and crypts and it is there where he finds the answer to his questions. Because of this description, the narrator creates the image of the romantic hero, an image predominant during the Romantic period. This also creates the impression that Orlando doesn’t belong in the time he lives in, a time that forgot how to appreciate what is important and forgot about the importance of genuine feelings and emotions.
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