The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf in Orlando.
Orlando emerges from the period of Virginia Woolf's life when she is most experimental and venturesome. After finishing her best novels, To the Lighthouse and The Waves, Woolf decides to change the style and write something "delighted to read". Her personal venturing is epitomized by her relationship with her closet friend Vita Sackville-West, a bisexualist and the original model of Orlando. Orlando is as much a product of her personal as her artistic venturing and is her ultimate comment of Vita and the kind of friendship Vita prefers.
In this witty fantasy, Virginia Woolf creates the unforgettable character, Orlando, who is first masculine, then feminine, and whose life spans three centuries. He is introduced in the Elizabethan age as a chivalrous male, slashing away at a dehydrated Moor's head. The Queen is charmed by his beauty and innocence and confers on him the Order of the Garter. In the Jacobean age, he passionately falls in love with Sasha, the Russian ambassador's daughter. Her betrayal to him results in his first trance, which lasts for seven days. Then he completely devotes himself to literature, but again he is cheated by a poet Greene. He leaves for Constantinople as the Ambassador of Great Britain and secretly marries a gypsy, Rosina Pepita. Soon after the marriage he falls into a week-long trance. On regaining consciousness he finds himself transformed into a woman. He lives with a band of gypsies for a short period and leaves for England during the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, Orlando has to face legal problems of inheritance due to his sexual transformation. She busies herself with literary and social pursuits, meeting Pope, Swift and Addison in the era of wit and satire. She discharges her duty as a woman, marries one Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine, and bears a son in the Edwardian age. In the twentieth century, Shelmerdine returns from his voyage and Orlando's poem The Oak Tree is completed and published.