Orlando Metaphors and Similes

Disease (Metaphor)

After Orlando is forced to return to his home because he is exiled from the court, he begins to write and finds happiness in literature. He compares the inspiration he has to a disease that killed many before him who were weak and were unable to exteriorize the inspiration they had.

Civilization (Metaphor)

After Orlando changes into a woman, she joins a tribe of gypsies and lives with them for a while. From the start, Orlando notices the change in mentality and values. What is important for her is useless to the gypsies around her. The elder of the tribe sees her habit of staying alone and meditating on nature and life as being useless and impractical. For them, a nomad tribe whose main purpose is to survive, the idea of doing something impractical is unthinkable. Because of this, they consider reading and meditating to be a metaphor for the civilized world: the civilized world is often impractical and often focuses on things that have no practical value in the "real" world, where every day is a battle.

Revealing the Truth to the World (Metaphor)

The scene where Orlando changes from a male into a female can be seen as a metaphor for representing someone honestly and completely. The three ladies who appear—Chastity, Modesty, and Purity—try to control Orlando and his desires. The three ladies tried to cover Orlando’s true nature, but when Truth comes in, the ladies no longer have power over Orlando. Truth is stronger than the other ladies, and this powerful presence can also be interpreted as the writer’s instinct to write about the real character of a person, and to try not to hide his or her flaws and sins.

Oppression (Metaphor)

At the end of the fourth chapter, Orlando describes the clouds that loom over London. The peaceful feeling she used to experience is gone, replaced by fear. The clouds have a metaphorical value: they represent the social and political context of Victorian times in England. Especially for a woman, England was extremely oppressive, especially towards women, and the clouds are used here to emphasize that.

Stability (Metaphor)

For Orlando, a stable point in her life is the manor house. The narrator is explicit when describing it and when mentioning the exact number of rooms and stairways the house has. The numbers are not random: they represent the number of days and weeks a year has. Through this, the house is used as a metaphor to transmit the idea of stability and timelessness in a world that is always changing.