Anti-colonization and Dehumanization in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko

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Anti-colonization and Dehumanization in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko In Oroonoko, Aphra Behn sheds light on the horrors of slavery and expansionism that Britain was conducting while assembling its overseas empire. Behn paints the majority of the white colonists as unmitigated illustrations of greed, dishonesty, and brutality. Through these depraved individuals, Behn regularly articulates the barbarism innate in British nature as opposed to the African prince Oroonoko, whom is conveyed as the quintisential model of nobility, physical prowness, and honor. These reoccuring motifs apparent throughout the literary work reveal Behn's intention of undermining the inhumane treatment of the colonized populice and the criticism of overseas expansion. Upon close examination of the literary work, one could conclusively view Aphra Behn's Oroonoko as an assailment against the dehumanization of the colonized people and a subtle criticism of Britain s external colonization. The first account of Behn's anti-colonization position begins with the introduction of the native Indians of Surinam, of whom have been tainted and stripped of their virtue due to the intrusion of the British. The natives of Surinam are depicted as living in perfect peace in a world enshrouded in beauty and innocense. The narrator of the tale stated that, "… these people represented to me an absolute idea of the first state of innocense, before man knew how to sin" (2184). Behn goes further to compare the natives to Adam and Eve when the narrator explains that the aprons the natives wear are similar to the "fig leaves" that Adam and Eve wore (2184). By establishing this description of the natives, one can begin to veiw the natives as innocent as Adam and Eve before the fall ... ... middle of paper ... ...fferings. It is evident that Behn believes that the dehumanization of the colonized other is wrong, and that Britain should cease it's overseas expansion, or at least change it's methods of interaction with the colonies inhabitants. The manner in which Behn distinguishes the white men from the natives and Africans attests to her anti-colonization position. Despite this fact, it becomes problematic in analyzing Behn's position on slavery, because of the frequent distintness made between the characters. The narrator makes us feel sympathy for Oroonoko, but he does not seem to have much in common with his people and is obviously separate from them in status as he takes slaves as well. One wonders that upon closer examination of the narrator's rationale and reasoning throughout the work, that Behn is not completely against slavery, but rather the treatment of slaves.

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