Orlando Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Orlando Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


The Queen gives Orlando a ring two years after she meets him, during the ceremony where Orlando is named the Queen’s steward. The ring has a symbolic meaning and it usually means that a person won the favors of someone who has authority. For Orlando, the fact that the Queen gave him her ring symbolized her affection for him.


A recurrent motif that appears in the novel is the inability to distinguish in the beginning between one gender and the other. The first time this motif appears is when Orlando is described and he appears more life a female figure than a traditional male one. In the same chapter, Orlando is unable to tell is Sasha is a male or a female because of her appearance. This element remains a recurrent motif in the novel until the end.


A recurrent motif is the unstable character that Orlando has. He is presented as being an easily bored person who grows tired of everything around him quickly. What may be extremely important for him in a certain period of his life may appear worthless a second later. A clear example is his passion for literature and writing that lasted a few years until one day he decided that he will stop writing.


At the end of the second chapter, Orlando manages to finish one of his poems that has a great impact on those who know him. The poem is the result of years of practice and efforts from Orlando’s part that culminate into a masterpiece. The finished poem is used here as a symbol to refer to Orlando’s personal maturity.


Another recurrent motif is the fact that Orlando falls often in trances that usually last seven days. Every time he falls into a trance, some change accrues in him. The first time he falls into a trance, he wakes up and finds that he can write really well and also that he forgot many things about his. The second time it happens, Orlando is in Constantinople and when he wakes up, he is no longer a man.

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