Essays On Oroonoko And Slavery

Finally, Behn posits identity as a malleable concept, which changes with context and other external influences.

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In fact, it seems that the narrator of the story, who is arguably based on Behn herself, does not oppose the institution of slavery itself but instead is appalled at the British slave traders' and plantation owners' brutality toward the slaves, specifically towards Oroonoko, heir to the throne of Coramantien.

A modern-day understanding of racism complicates any scrutiny of the story.

Oroonoko's own support of the master/slave relationship is evident as he says: "...[I] wonder how she escapes those who can entertain her as you can do; or why, being your slave, you do not oblige her to yield" (p 71).

This statement provokes the idea of ownership, that Oroonoko/Caesar believes that Trefry's slaves are his property and he may do with them as he wishes. Conclusion The final scenes of Oroonoko are the most interesting and solidify the idea that the novel is not an anti-slavery text.

In this way, he unifies the group and later gains their unanimous sympathy when they “all” respond with “one accord,” (53).

Still, regardless of whether the elevated, heroic diction employed comes from Oroonoko or the narrator, Behn uses it to distinguish him anew.With English readers in mind, Behn describes Oroonoko in a favorable, even glorified, manner so that these readers can acknowledge him as a heroic prince.For example, Oroonoko has a French tutor to educate him in all areas, from science to etiquette. Middle There is no further mention of these slaves sold with Oroonoko.Particularly in the supposedly quoted parts of his speech, he emphasizes his fellowship with the Coramantien collective and distances himself from the “unknown,” British collective (50).He calls his compatriots “Fellow-sufferers” and repeatedly uses “we” to foster camaraderie (50).Not only is the story written by a woman and incorporates some traces of feminism (i.e.Imoinda is depicted as a fearless woman), but most importantly, it deals with issues of slavery, depicting a royal and noble African prince taken captive.In fact, as Trefry is confiding in Oroonoko/Caesar, he tells him of his infatuation with Clemene.Ironically, Oroonoko is not yet aware that Celemene is in fact his long-lost love Imoinda and thus, he views her as any common slave.One can go as far as to say that Behn is rationalizing slavery, suggesting that these slaves are intrinsically submissive and in need of a master.Behn's lack of opposition towards slavery is also shared by Oroonoko himself.


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