This game is intended to bring the viewer to a deeper realization of just how much Orlando may have gone through after his transition from man to woman. And by walking through a day in the life of the feminine Orlando, I want to show that Virginia Woolf's view of gender was extremely fluid and still impacts the way we think about gender today. Orlando's life is full of suprises and change, but it is not often that we see a minute-by-minute experience of her life in the original novel. I wanted to do a close-up of just one day, with a few more imagined situations and a lot more dialogue, so that by the end of it, the viewer will come to a solid conclusion on how Woolf's idea of gender fluidity affects every individual. Different people deal with gender in different ways, especially based on what society sees, and doing a day-in-the-life seemed a good way to explore that idea. Click [[Begin]].Opening her closet, Orlando finds that she is faced with a sudden problem. None of her current style of clothing seems to become her. She feels completely different, light suddenly beautiful and admired, and she wonders what to do...and suddenly turns to ask you what she should do.
"Come now, [[what shall I do?]]" she persists. "I cannot go out as a woman in these clothes, and expect others not to blink an eye...and yet should I care what others think of me? Even if I dress as a man?"You are one of Orlando's personal servants, with the family since birth, and today you have your first chance to assist Orlando and accompany him to town the next day. He discusses the events of today and the plans for the next with you, eager to find out what tomorrow will bring.
It grows late, and you are watching as Orlando retires to his room for the night. At first, nothing seems out of the ordinary. But then, as his eyes close in sleep and you are about to leave, you see three feminine forms walk quietly into the room and stand around his bed. They seem like misty apparitions, yet you can hear them talking. You overhear one speaking to another, and eventually gather that the first woman calls herself [[Purity]], the second, Chastity, and the third, Modesty. "Odd names," you think to yourself. They seem to be mourning over something, and as you continue to listen, you realize that they are trying to speak to Orlando. First Purity calls, as she leans over Orlando's sleeping form, "On all things frail or dark or doubtful, my veil descends. Wherefore, speak not, reveal not" (Woolf 135). Next, Chastity speaks, "I am she whose touch freezes and whose glance turns to stone...where my eyes fall, they kill" (135).After thinking long and hard, Orlando decides she has never worn anything remotely feminine, but has always wondered what it would feel like. She decides she wants to try on a dress, but she doesn't have any in her possession since she only became a woman just last night. To remedy this, you run to the nearest dress shop, choose several modest but stylish gowns, and rush back to your waiting Mistress. After several long minutes of indecision (which you find fascinating as Orlando has never taken this long just to choose an outfit) you help her into her first "wine-colored brocade" (185). She breathes in deeply, a look of wonder on her face, which causes you to ask, "What is it?" She startles from her reverie and whispers, "For the first time, I really feel beautiful. Men don't get that feeling when they put on clothes. It is just another part of the day, often rushed and practical...not for fun, never enjoyed. [[This is different.]]" Walking into the streets is like trying to swim upstream. The crowds push you around...and then begin to part as they see the stunning woman you are walking with. Orlando meanders somewhat shyly down the walkway, and after a few moments, the compliments begin: "What a beautiful dress, Miss," one man says as he passes by. Orlando looks at you, unsure of how to repsond. A woman comes up after a minute and asks where she bought the fantastic feathered hat that sits properly upon Orlando's head. Orlando answers quickly, but does not go on about the price or the quality of the hat. The woman is confused at her short, unusual answer and moves on. As you both continue walking, yet another man notices Orlando and calls out, "Afternoon, Madam! Lovely day for a stroll, ain't it?" Several other less-than-reputable individuals make whistles and catcalls as Orlando passes by, and after you arrive at a more secluded spot, she gasps, "Never in my life have I received so many compliments on how I look! Is it that important to people how a woman dresses? Yesterday, I received not one compliment on my hat, not one comment on the weather." You shake your head, unsure of how to respond to her confusion. But presently, you are both distracted by a loud, determined speaker who seems to be gathering quite a crowd. After a moment's rest, Orlando heads toward the [[man]], curious as to what he is saying. And again, you follow.The moment Orlando steps outside, the whole world seems to stop. She steps onto the street and people begin whispering about her garb.
"Did you see that shameless hussy?" "Well, I NEVER!" "My child will never be seen wearing men's clothing." "Who does she think she is?" "I wish women were allowed to wear pants." "She seems so brazen...yet confident..." The comments are varied, mostly demeaning, a few wishful. Orlando feels all eyes on her, and you can tell she realizes that she is the source of the stares. Yet she chooses to ignore them for the moment and grabbing your arm, she strides into the first [[book shop]] she sees.As soon as she enters the book store, the general reaction is not necessarily a positive one. Everyone stares at the brash young lady wearing trousers and a vest and sporting a top hat, and several whispers and stares circle the room. Who does she think she is? Orlando walks to the counter and asks the shopkeeper for a few references to some good books on British politics. The manager looks completely stunned...why on earth would a woman be interested in politics?
"Shouldn't you be at home instead of worrying about the political state of our nation?" he asks rudely. You stand there stunned, wondering how Orlando will react. But instead of becoming flustered, she looks the man straight in the eye and says, "Why should it matter to you what I am involved with or what I like to read? I am interested in improving my mind, and as far as I know, I am not harming anyone or anything by choosing to do so." Your eyes widen, as do the shopkeeper's. You are sure he has never been spoken to in such a bold manner. He hands over a couple books without another word and the two of you [[leave]] the shop.As you come closer, you realize that the speaker is talking about the possible consequences of allowing women to own property. Orlando's brow furrows as she realizes the inconsistencies in his argument and boldly raises her voice: "Sir, why cannot women be trusted to own property? Are they any less responsible or entitled than men?"
The crowd seems to freeze, and you look around hurriedly for the first avenue of escape. The man is stunned into silence, shocked that Orlando would dare to speak up. And here Orlando realizes her mistake: she is a woman, and for a woman to speak her mind so forwardly is almost unheard of; it is certainly not condoned. Luckily, you grab her arm and hurry her away from the crowd, not wanting to start any fights, and she meekly follows.
"I'm sorry," she tells you. "I...I guess I forgot myself. I am so used to being heard and having my views respected...I forgot that women have no such privilege. It was a simple, honest question. Yet I never thought, as a man, of the reality that women should be equals with men. Truly, being a woman does come with a price." You simply nod in response and continue through the streets towards [[the park]].Orlando thinks for a moment, and then steps boldly into an outfit similar to the one that she wore yesterday. But how the look of them has changed on her transformed body! She feels different, carries herself different, looks different in her masculine garb. But why? She is still Orlando.
She turns to you in concern and asks, "What do you think?"
You reply, "M'Lady, why should it matter what I think? What do YOU think?"
She turns to the mirror again in silence, looking at her reflection. "I am going to [[town]]," she declares, "I'd like to stop by the local bookstore, and then perhaps we shall take a short walk by the lake." Without a word more about how she feels in her odd attire, she marches downstairs and out the door.
You are slightly confused at her short response. It is not much different than it would have been had Orlando still been a man this morning when she woke up. But it is useless to try to reason through it right now, and shrugging it off, you hurry after her.As you continue on, you both happen upon a small child, not more than five years of age, who is crying on the street. He catches Orlando's attention, and despite the growing lateness of the hour, she marches purposefully towards him. You trail behind, not wanting to cause any more trouble but feeling obliged to stay near your mistress. As Orlando approaches the child, she calls to him softly. The child turns and sniffs the tears away, gathering himself but still shaking from fear.
"What is wrong, little one?" Orlando asks tenderly, surprising herself. How does she sound so suddenly sympathetic? The child answers between sobs that he cannot find his parents...he doesn't know which direction they went, but he is too hysterical to say much more. Determined not to leave him, Orlando stoops down and strokes the child's hand, saying, "Don't worry, sweetheart, dry your tears. I will stay with you until your parents come to find you. Why, I can imagine they are looking for you right now! Come, let's sit down and I'll tell you a story while we [[wait.]]" "I really don't know what happened," Orlando says as you enter her home, a troubled look on her face. "I've never seen children that way: lost and in need of guidance and care. If this had been yesterday, as a man, I would never have told him stories, dried his tears, and taken him upon my lap. Oh yes, I would have helped him find his parents of course, but the tenderness would not have been so prominent. I would have seen the need and dealt with it promptly, without any extra fuss. I felt so odd! [[Why?]]"You walk towards the house and presently, Orlando is stopped by a young woman. She looks to be about eighteen years of age and catches Orlando's arm, forcing her to slow down.
"Excuse me, I...I don't mean to pry," she squeaks breathlessly. "But I saw you earlier today and I had to find you and ask...why are you so unafraid to walk about in men's clothing? You seem so fearless. A kind of fearlessness that I've always wanted to possess. What made you decide you would wear men's clothes? And where do you get your confidence?"
Orlando walks slowly without replying for a few moments, but you lean closer, eager to hear her [[response]].Orlando decides to take a short walk around the lake beside the city before heading home. As you walk quietly beside her, Orlando remarks, "Well that was an interesting experience. I am sure I shall never know how to make everyone happy. It seems that nothing I do will bring them satisfaction. And so I suppose I must make myself happy instead."
Her words hit you, and you realize that she has more of an idea of the true meaning of individuality and self than you thought. "You have a good point," you reply simply, as the two of you finish your stroll. Orlando strides purposefully back towards the bustling [[city]].You help Orlando dress for bed, and as she does so, you notice that she seems to take a great deal more care with brushing her hair, washing herself, and making sure her clothes are put away properly. And after all is finished, she turns to you and asks, "Do you know what I learned today? I feel as if I am 'censuring both sexes equally, as if I belong to neither; and indeed, for the time being I seem to vacillate; I am a man. I am a woman. I know the secrets and share the weaknesses of each. It is truly the most bewildering and whirligig state of mind to be in. The comforts of ignorance seemed utterly denied me'"(158).
You simply nod again in response, feeling things beyond words, and leave her to prepare for [[bed]] yourself.Works Cited
Howard, Stephen. "The Lady in the Looking-Glass: Reflections on the Self in Virginia Woolf." Journal of International Women's Studies. Vol. 8, Issue 2, Article 5. (p. 53).
Melita, Maureen M. "Gender Identity and Androgyny in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography." Romance Notes, vol. 53, no. 2, 2013, pp. 123–133. EBSCOhost, https://eds-a- ebscohost-com.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? vid=19&sid=d8c45967-ae44-4fd4-bf48-932ad71e32ca%40sdc-v-sessmgr05
Woolf, Virginia. Orlando. Harcourt Publishing Company, 1928. (pp. ). Print."Are you alright?!" you ask breathlessly, dashing up to the scene and turning Orlando to face you.
"I am fine, just a few bruises and scrapes. Nothing a hot bath and a change of clothes won't fix," Orlando states matter-of-factly, turning again to see to the driver. You are stunned at how cool and collected she appears to be, and you turn your attention to getting help for the shaken driver and the horse.
Later on, as you walk back to Orlando's estate, you turn to her and question her, "What in the world made you decide to do such a fool-hardy thing? You could have been killed!" You feel slightly bad for demanding a reason, but you feel responsible for her [[well-being]].At this point, Orlando startles awake and rises from the bed.
"What happened? Was someone in here with me?" Orlando asks you, but you are too surprised by what you see to say much. Instead, you simply point to the mirror and say, "Look."
Orlando looks at you in confusion, but heeds what you say and walks to the big mirror hanging on the wall opposit the bed. It seems impossible, but there is no mistaking the transformation that Orlando sees in the mirror's reflection and her eyes widen: she has become a [[woman]].First Purity calls, as she leans over Orlando's sleeping form, "On all things frail or dark or doubtful, my veil descends. Wherefore, speak not, reveal not" (Woolf 135). She turns to her sister, [[Chastity]] and nods to her to take her turn speaking. Next, Chastity speaks, "I am she whose touch freezes and whose glance turns to stone...where my eyes fall, they kill" (135). With an agonizing groan, she leans on her sister, [[Modesty]] who takes her cue from the first two women.As if these two warnings aren't enough, Modesty speaks last, "I am she that men call Modesty. Virgin I am and ever shall be" (135). Orlando starts to writhe in his sleep, and you watch as the three figures try desperately to hold him down. As they struggle to contain him, a loud, commanding voice cries out of nowhere, "Truth!" You are shaken, and the three women flee the room, leaving Orlando [[alone]].Although it seems the most natural response to her situation, Orlando doesn't panic as you expect her to do. Slowly she turns and and looks at you, shaking her head in confusion, the long locks of hair that hadn't been there a moment ago falling about her slender shoulders. You are just as confused, and nothing seems to be the right thing to say in the moment.
But after a few minutes, you shake yourself, remembering that it is rude to stare, and offer her a long robe. Orlando takes it and wraps it around herself slowly, still dazed by what she sees. But presently, she straightens her shoulders and seems to brush off her surprise. She walks to her closet to dress for the day and you [[Follow]] her, wondering what she will do when she opens it and realizes her first dilemma as a woman.As her personal servant, you feel you must give her options, yet you also have to be honest about the different reactions she may receive based on what she chooses to wear. "I suppose you must choose whether or not it matters what others think of how you look...M'Lady," you say, stumbling over the unfamiliar title. "If it matters greatly to you, then maybe you could try putting on [[a dress]]? Although I will have to go buy one, as there is a severe lack of dresses in your closet at present. If not, then perhaps you would just choose from what you already have and simply wear [[clothes]] like the ones you wore yesterday? It is your decision, I cannot say."You then proceed to help her put on some light makeup and jewelry, and as you assist her, you immediately notice that she is "becoming a little more modest, as women are, of her brains, and a little more vain, as women are, of her person" (187). "Strange," you think to yourself, "I have never before seen anything like this. When Orlando was a man, dressing was the shortest part of the day. We have nigh spent two hours preparing now!"
When all is finished, Orlando breathes deeply and nods at her finished reflection. "Wonderful. I feel like a stroll in town, shall we see what goes on in the streets today?" she asks as she opens door of her room and marches determinedly down to the entrance of her house. You hastily put away any traces of her masculine garb and follow her out into the [[streets]], wondering what will happen next.For half an hour, you sit with Orlando as she occupies the child with enchanting tales of faraway places. Presently, a young couple rushes frantically around the corner, and when they see Orlando and the child, they hurry towards you. When the child notices them, he leaps up and runs to the woman, yelling and laughing and then pointing at Orlando. The reunited family walks toward Orlando, and the woman thanks her with tears in her eyes. After ensuring the child is safe, Orlando turns and beckons to you to walk with her back to the [[estate]]."Well..." you begin, trying to tread lightly as you do not quite know what to make of the situation either, "I think that many women tend to have a more tender, caring nature than men. And at that moment, it showed itself more strongly than you have ever experienced before. I do not think that it is a bad thing though. In fact, it suits you very well! You did the right thing, and besides, see how you comforted the child?! He nearly forgot he was lost and became entranced with your stories instead!"
Orlando smiles at the memory of the child's laugh and replies, "I suppose you are right. I am just not used to feeling more feminine, more caring of others, and more open to the world around me. But thank you."
You nod your response. It wasn't extremely obvious, but you noticed the tender look in her eye as she spoke of the lost child, and you realize that she has acquired yet another feminine trait since this morning: a nuturing spirit.
Both of you decide to retire for the [[night]] and head up to Orlando's room.As you climb between the sheets, you think about what Orlando said. How she feels both feminine and masculine. How she realizes that either way she identifies, she is still herself. You finally whisper as your eyes start to close, "'Self isn't feminine or masculine. It is so much deeper than that. That's what Orlando was getting at. To her, her identity doesn't depend on what others see. It lies within herself, and that alone is hard for many people to grasp. She has grasped it. She sees so many possibilities for her own self, and she is eager to find them out, no matter what'" (Woolf 56).
[[Works Cited]]"I don't know why I said that," Orlando says, obviously flustered. "I am a woman now, and I completely forgot myself. Yet...why should I have to be embarrassed? It felt good to be in control of myself and the situation, regardless of my garb or my gender."
"I think you said just the right thing," you assure her. "But it was interesting to see the reactions you received. Some admiring, but some rather disgusted honestly. But if it doesn't matter to you, it shouldn't matter to them."
Both of you come to a split at the end of the town street, and you stop, deciding whether to take the [[right]] lane straight home or the [[left]] lane to the lake for a walk.You can tell she is still unsure about sharing the whole story, but after a minute, she replies slowly, "You are mistaken. I was afraid. But not because I think what I am doing is wrong. It is because I know that it will cause others to treat me with contempt. Society says one thing, but that doesn't mean it is always right. But it is not being afraid that matters. What matters is that I am a woman, not an delicate angel that can be broken by a word. I am a person, not an animal. I have just as much right to choose what I wear as every man around me. I do not even think that wearing women's clothes is a bad thing...I most likely shall tomorrow. But people should look at me for who I am, not for what I am wearing."
Stunned, the girl nods and replies, "Thank you. I needed to hear that. And you are right." Without a word more, she walks away and you and Orlando head home. You don't feel as if there is any need to question your mistress after hearing her heart on the matter, and you believe that she is finally confident in who she is.
[[Works Cited]]Suddenly, as you both round a corner back into the city streets, you see a horse-drawn carriage careening crazily down the street, the driver barely hanging onto the reigns for dear life. The horse was clearly spooked by something and the driver has lost control. People are scurrying out of the way as the carriage swerves left and right, yet no one tries to stop the horse. You turn to make sure that Orlando has moved safely out of the way, but she is nowhere to be found! Looking around frantically, you see her dashing down the walkway in her trousers, then stopping right in the middle of the street, waiting as the horse rushes toward her. Without a second thought, she boldly steps up as it careens past her, grabs the reigns and yells, "Woaaahhhhhhh!" The horse seems to drag her along for several yards, before the carriage abruptly comes to a halt, leaving dust and debris in its wake. Still hanging onto the reigns, she continues to soothe the horse and ensure that the driver is alright, despite the fact that she is bruised and her hair a dusty, tangled mess. You [[rush]] towards her.She turns to you, brushing off her coat front, and admits, "I didn't really think at all. It must be because I have been so used to being a man...and a strong, healthy one at that. In that moment, it didn't seem impossible for me to prevent a possible disaster. But do you know what I just now realized? I have been allowed to 'know what it means to live both as a male and a female. I do not need to cross dress to prove my masculinity or femininity, because I have and still truly exist as the other gender. Even as a woman, I embody both male and female characteristics.' I think that is why I chose stop that horse. I knew no one else would do it, and even though I am a woman, who is to say I haven't the ability to help when I see an immediate need? And who cares how I dress? My freedom of movement allowed me to stop a frightened animal, whereas if I had chosen to wear a dress, I may not have been able to help. I have decided for good...gendered clothes are of no importance to me. What I wear is my [[choice]], and no one shall be able to tell me differently" (Melita 131).You are too shocked to speak, but your eyes have been opened as you realize the gravity of what Orlando has just told you. She realizes the importance of the deeper self, beyond gender, and she has decided what matters more to her. You decide to rethink the way you have been influenced by the society around you. And beyond that, you begin to resolve to change the negative outlook on others' personal choices as much as you can.