Mind vs. Body and Society : Androgynous Self-Perception and Social Preconceptions of Gender in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Institutionen för språk, litteratur och interkultur

Author: Lina Eriksson; [2014]

Keywords: ;


This essay argues that Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) suggests that self-perception is not tied to sex and gender because of the difference in the protagonist’s perceptions of his/her gender and sex and the society’s perceptions of the protagonist’s gender and sex. In the essay, a distinction between the mind and the body of the protagonist is used to stress the difference between his/her self-perception and his/her biological sex. Furthermore, gender as a social construction is used as a third part in discussing self-perception, sex and identity. The essay discusses how Orlando does not change as a person even though the body and sex do, and how s/he has to conform to society’s gender norms in various ways. Finally, the essay shows how Orlando is not an exception since other characters’ gendered behavior is determined by society’s preconceptions as well. The essay concludes that society’s gender norms oppress people who live or want to live outside these norms. 

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