Final Essay: Oroonoko; Or, The Royal Slave

749 words - 3 pages

The story, Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave, written by Aphra Behn, depicts the main character, Oroonoko, as being an African prince that lives among his people, whom all abide by a code of virtue and fidelity. When Oroonoko is faced with a dilemma in his own country and living among a “civilized” white society, that are devout Christians, he is confronted with the burden to uphold his code of virtue and maintain a title of being a “Noble Savage” by means of loyalty, religious beliefs, and honor.
Oroonoko is able to sustain his code of virtue and fidelity by showing an act of true loyalty that proves his devotion and love to his lover and wife, Imoinda. After the King, Oroonoko’s grandfather, vigorously takes Imoinda for himself, Oroonoko faces the decision to either end his love affair or prove his loyalty to Imoinda. He chooses to go against the King and have Imoinda for one more night, even if his consequence is death:
You may imagine how welcome this news was to Oroonoko, whose
unseasonable transport and caress of Imoinda was blamed by all men
that loved him; and now he [Oroonoko] perceived his fault, yet cried that
for such another moment, he would be content to die. (2325-26)
Even though Oroonoko is loyal to his grandfather, he decides that there should be no mercy, as his loyalty to Imoinda is worth the risk of his life, and by this act it shows the true depth of his virtue.
The second code of virtue that Oroonoko displays is by preserving his pagan religious beliefs against those of Christian faith. When Oroonoko and his troops are captured by a slave captain, whom he has become quite familiar with in the past, he [Oroonoko] demonstrates that his religious beliefs are not inferior to that of a Christian man. Oroonoko and his men would rather face death in honor than to be destined to a life of slavery. The captain promises Oroonoko that he and his men would be freed if only they would not starve to death. The conversation between Oroonoko and the captain makes it evident that religion plays a key role in a man's value:
For the captain had protested to him upon...

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