Orland by Janet Woolf

analytical Essay
1661 words
1661 words

The effect marriage in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando has upon the modern individual will be the focus of this essay, whilst also considering the role the wedding ring plays in defining the terms of marriage. Woolf portrays Orlando as a modern individual largely because she is free from a number of social conventions and familial pressures other women of the time are subjected to. Despite this, it is the pressure of marriage that she cannot escape: even after she has married Shelmerdine, Orlando is thinking of ways to live her life as before. In contrast to her statement of being forced to consider ‘the most desperate of remedies, which was to yield completely and submissively to the spirit of the age, and take a husband’ (121) Orlando is sincere in her affection for Shelmerdine, suggesting it is the idea of what marriage entails rather than the act itself which provides the pressure to conform and desire for escape.

Orlando can be seen as a modern individual in terms of the contemporary, representing the emancipated free woman: this is visible as ‘the cry that rose to her lips was ‘Life! A lover!’ not ‘Life! A husband!’ (120) Without thinking, she automatically associates a husband with restrictions, which, as the text demonstrates, was not always the case in the nineteenth century: a husband would add to freedom whilst a lover could damage her reputation, making her an outsider in the patriarchal and strict Victorian society. Woolf displays this fact through the character of Orlando with marriage as a partial way of achieving freedom. Her decision to pretend to be married in order to live as she had previously done as a man shows marriage as a way to increase liberty; this is enhanced by her union with Shelmerdine, ultimately reflec...

... middle of paper ...

...ctorian England.

Works Cited

Caine, Barbara. English Feminism. New York: Oxford University Press. 1997. Print.

Chesser, Barbara Jo. “Analysis of Wedding Rituals: An attempt to make weddings more sfdsdfffdmeaningful”. Family Relations. Vol. 29, No. 2. (Apr., 1980) pp. 204-209. [JSTOR]

Goldman, Jane. The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf. New York: Cambridge University Press. fsfdfsdgg2001. Print.

Shanley, Mary Lyndon. Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England. Princeton: Princeton dfsdfdfsdfUniversity Press. 1989. Print.

Simmel, Georg. ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’ in Kolocotroni, Vassiliki; Goldman, Jane; Taxidou, sfdfsfdfsdOlga, ‘Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents.’ Edinburgh: Edinburgh ffffffffffffUniversity Press. 1998. Print.

Wolff, Janet. ‘Feminism and Modernism’, The Polity Reader in Social Theory.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how virginia woolf portrays orlando as a modern individual largely because she is free from social conventions and familial pressures other women of the time are subject to.
  • Analyzes how woolf portrays orlando as a modern individual in terms of the contemporary, representing the emancipated free woman.
  • Illustrates the idea of marriage as a necessary chore with woolf's comment that couples trudged and plodded in the middle of the road indissolubly together.
  • Analyzes how woolf's description of marriage in the nineteenth century highlights the lack of rationality regarding marriage and the way it was regarded.
  • Analyzes woolf's portrayal of marriage as a necessity for women in terms of property, yet in one sense portrays the union as something that does not have to alter lifestyle dramatically.
  • Analyzes how simmel's argument stems from life in the metropolis, but women and their status through marriage could be included in this.
  • Analyzes how orlando's comment that the wedding ring must be on the third finger of the left hand shows she holds the opinion marriage is a social necessity.
  • Analyzes how chesser examines the history of the wedding ring, stating that it is the oldest and most universal marriage symbol.
  • Analyzes how woolf demonstrates the effect of marriage upon the modern individual. the wedding ring implies female subordination and an inability to escape the marriage contract.
  • Cites chesser, barbara jo, "analysis of wedding rituals: an attempt to make weddings more sfdsdff
  • Explains goldman, jane, the feminist aesthetics of virginia woolf.
  • Explains shanley, mary lyndon, feminism, marriage and the law in victorian england.
  • Cites simmel, georg, goldman, jane, and taxidou in modernism: an anthology of sources and documents.
Get Access