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Written by Micola Magdalena
A major theme in the novel is the idea that fulfillment is almost impossible to achieve. Time and time again, Orlando tries to find a meaning in life and happiness by trying to immerse himself in various activities. He finds soon enough that the pleasures literature, women and a good company bring last only for a short period of time and after the initial thrill disappears what is left behind is an emptiness that is harder to fill than before. Because of this, the novel presents Orlando’s continuous quest for happiness and pleasure.
The novel presents Orlando’s journey and process of maturity. Orlando changes from male to female, travels from country to country and his interests change all the time but what remains the same are his values. No matter the place where he finds himself, Orlando values the same things constantly. For him, poetry, wealth and feelings are important even though the society in which he lives in considers them to be worthless.
The writer also focuses on the gender issue in the novel. Orlando doesn’t have a fix gender and shifts from male to female. Because of this, he is able to experience both worlds and then reach a conclusion based on what he sees and feels. Orlando notices how it is harder to be a female than to be a male because of the limitations imposed on females. But being a male is not perfect either because males, as Orlando describes them, are driven by the desire to climb the social ladder and become powerless when they are in front of a strong woman. The way the narrator describes the differences between the two genders is a realistic one and she doesn’t favor a gender in the detriment of the other.
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