Essays On Oroonoko And Slavery

Throughout Oronooko, particularly in this passage, Aphra Behn focuses on identity in both specific characters, such as Oroonoko and Imoinda, and collective terms, such as “Whites” and “Negroes.” In this way, she examines the various aspects of identity, particularly the personal and cultural.Additionally, she underscores the distinctions between man and beast in relation to human identity by exploring their respective definitions.

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In the article "Royalism and honor in Aphra Behn's 'Oroonoko,'" author Anita Pacheco, affirms that Behn portrays Oroonoko in terms of his royal status, not as an African slave and states: "Consequently, Oroonoko is a slave in name only; that, apparently, is degradation enough; actual slave labor is quite unthinkable." Clearly, Behn's description of Oroonoko and his experience on the plantation is outrageously far from what the vast majority of slaves endured.

More so, in this scene, Behn depicts the slaves as undignified as, upon seeing Oroonoko, many of the men whom he had actually sold into slavery kiss his feet and pay him "Divine Homage" (p 70).

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.

Only more romanticized details of Oroonoko's captivity follow.

While the common practice of renaming the slaves is intended to belittle slaves and destroy their past identity, Trefry renames Oroonoko Caesar, representing his splendor.

Furthermore, he says, “my dear Friends,” wielding the possessive to claim the other slaves as his peers, specifically (52).

His later use of the pronoun “you” uniquely engages both the individuals and collective before him (52).

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.


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