Orlando Literary Elements

Orlando Literary Elements



Setting and Context

The action takes place in England between the 16th century and the year 1928.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the biographers point of view, an objective narrator.

Tone and Mood

Tragic, satirical

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Orlando and the antagonist can be considered as being the social rules and customs Orlando can’t conform to.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is given by the difference between Orlando’s desire and what is accepted by the society she lives in.


The novel reaches its climax when Orlando is transformed into a woman.


The presence of two androgynous characters in the beginning, Orlando and Sasha, foreshadows the change in genders that will accrue later on in the novel.


In the beginning of the novel, the narrator presents itself as being an impartial biographer who will present the life of Orlando in an impartial manner. This is an understatement as it becomes clear from the beginning of the novel that the narrator will not be impartial and that the poetic manner in which the biography is written points towards a personal attachment that the narrator has for Orlando.


In the fourth chapter, the narrator makes some allusions towards the social and political context that existed in London during the Victorian times. During that chapter, the narrator describes Orlando’s transition from male to female and also some differences Orlando noticed between the way a female is regarded and the way a male is treated. In this chapter, through Orlando’s voice, the narrator makes some allusions towards the restrictions the Victorian society imposed on females and how that society was not benefic at all for the females living then.


The image of Sasha skating on the frozen lake is the predominant image if the novel. Orlando will continue to remember Sasha and will always see her in other people or at random times.


The narrator tries to give the impression that she will write an autobiography about a young man that she admires while simultaneously giving the impression that she will try to avoid getting to personal. This proves to be a paradox because on numerous occasions, the narrator tries to shape the reader’s impression about Orlando by telling them how to think about certain actions made by him.


A parallel can be drawn between Orlando and Sasha in order to emphasize the characteristics Orlando has. In comparison with Sasha, Orlando is softer and has a feminine side. Orlando lacks the power Sasha has and also lacks the strong character she has. Through this parallel, the narrator conveys the idea that Orlando has more femininity in him than a real female.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

In the fifth chapter, Orlando thinks how she must start to wear a crinoline because that is the custom for pregnant ladies of her time. She bases her though on the fact that the Queen herself started to wear one and that it was the custom of the time to try and hide that a woman is pregnant for as long time as possible. Because of this, one can assume that the Queen is used here as a metonymy to refer to every female born in that time who followed the unwritten rules of the time.


Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us,

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