page 1 of 2
The narrator comments on the misfortune that so many documents regarding this important part of Orlando's life are destroyed. Orlando plays an important role in the negotiations between King Charles II and the Turks. While he is out of the country during the Glorious revolution of 1688, many of the records are destroyed.
Orlando finds Turkey quite different from the manor houses he has known in England, but he enjoys Constantinople's wild, exotic quality. He spends his mornings adding bows and flourishes to important letters of state, and his afternoons visiting other dignitaries with much pomp and ceremony. Yet this life tires Orlando, and he would sometimes take the opportunity to go out to the mountains and read his poetry. Though he has a magnetic quality that draws people to him, Orlando finds no close friends in Constantinople. But he carries out his ambassadorial duties so well that King Charles gives him a dukedom, raising him to the highest office of the peerage.
When the officer who carries his official patent of nobility arrives, Orlando throws a huge party. Thousands of people of every nationality are there to see the sight; the rumor has circulated that a miracle is to be performed there. The party is a sight to see. There are fireworks and many English people dressed in their most elegant attire. The narrator pieces the story together, she tells us, from fragments of reports of Lieutenant Brigge who watches the scene from a tree, and from the letters of Miss Penelope Hartopp. The letter reports that half the women at the party are dying of love for Orlando.
Just as Orlando kneels down to place the golden circlet of strawberry leaves upon his brow, a disturbance begins. An uproar arises as natives rush through the door. Luckily, British soldiers are there to quiet the disturbance. Later that night once all the guests are gone, a washer woman sees Orlando the Duke go out onto his balcony, let down a rope and pull a peasant woman up to his room. Then they embrace passionately. The next morning, Orlando's servants find him alone in his room, asleep, with all of his clothes and papers in a mess around him. They try to wake him up unsuccessfully. When his secretaries look through the papers on his desk, they find a marriage license to Rosina Pepita, a dancer.
On the seventh day of Orlando's trance an insurrection occurs. The Turks rise against the sultan and set fire to the town. They try to imprison or kill all the foreigners, but finding Orlando lying still in a trance, they think him dead and steal his robes. As Orlando lies in the trance, three figures enter: Lady of Purity, Lady of Chastity, and Lady of Modesty. They dance around Orlando's body and try to claim him, but trumpets sound. The figures are dismayed that no one wants them any longer. They decide that this is a place for Truth and not for them, so they leave. The trumpeters blast one note at Orlando, "the Truth" and he awakes. He stands upright, naked, and is now a woman.
Orlando is now a beautiful woman, with the strength of a man and a the grace of a woman. Orlando is not at all upset by this change. The narrator tells us that except for his gender, Orlando is in every respect "precisely what he had been." She remembers everything from her past, and the change has come about painlessly. The narrator confirms that up until age thirty, Orlando was a man, and now and ever after, she is a woman.
Take a Study Break!