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Oroonoko, By Aphra Behn Essay

1508 words - 6 pages

Oroonoko is short literary novel, written in 1688 by Aphra Behn, which details the love story of two enslaved Surinam nobilities, who both meet their atrocious ends. Through her explicit analytical language she lets the English colonists know that the enslaved masses had a refined culture and ideological force that was incapable of being disregarded. Aphra Behn was innovative in her plight as being one of the foremost political female novelists of her time. Throughout her narrative she argues "centres on the problems of authority and representatively," and tries to incorporate the fact, "that the presence of the foreigner in our society turns the pronoun 'we' into an impossibility" (Grant p.114). Although Behn neither argues the point of attacking slavery nor denies the issue, she does show the brutal acts imposed on other cultures and helps her readers attach themselves to the protagonist in the narrative. Oroonoko sheds light on the terrors of slavery and paints many of the white colonists as inhumane, unethical and deceitful, furthering the notion that this piece of literature can be viewed as a work of anti-colonialism.
“Mrs. Behn who’s genius was of that force like homer’s, to maintain its gaiety in the midst of disappointments, which a woman her sense and merit ought never to have met with: But she had a great strength of mind and command of thought being able to write in the midst of company” (A. Behn). While Behn never asserts her true intentions in writings this narrative, it can be viewed in various aspects. Although, incorporating it in an aspect of anti-colonialism meter seems rash, the language used to inscribe this work makes Behn’s ploy more visible. Although, in the plights of the characters it seems hard not to interpret this piece with some idea, that it has to be the first piece to actually touch on the idea of ridding the world of slavery. It also seems comedic that someone might take the nobility of British and place it on a different royal standing than any other nation. It is also ironic that Behn would write about the beauty of the nation that Oroonoko comes from, making it seem that she is trying to say that England was on a lower level. By doing this I believe Behn is trying to show the English nation, that they are unfit to colonize other nations that seem to show more nobility and class then they do
The inhumane temperament that Behn expresses is evident in the British civilization and is particularly obvious in the various characters and predicaments embellished in the plot. Bannister, a member of the Bryam’s council, tells Oroonoko that he will "die like a dog," to which Oroonoko replies as the “only man, of all the whites, that ever he heard speak truth” Another instance where this act of inhumanity is evident is during the brutal murder of Oroonoko. “And the executioner came, and first cut off his members, and threw them into the fire; after that, with an ill-favored knife, they cut off his ears and his nose...

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