Oroonko Analysis

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Oroonoko, written in the latter half of the 17th century, has been called the first slave narrative. Written by Aphra Bren in 1688, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave paints Oroonoko almost like a divine character, the pinnacle of African moral, and decorum standards. Oroonoko, both an African general and heir presumptive to the throne of his native land, speaks, thinks, and acts like any other man from Europe, but not at all like the people from his own land. Bren’s text specifically and deliberately ignores the plight of the lower classes and the customs of Oroooko’s native people, instead focusing on the similarities between Europeans, and Oroonoko. Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave, despite its reputation as the first slave narrative, is in fact a…show more content…
The race is only viewed as beautiful if they look like Europeans. Africans are not, observes Brehn, beautiful through their own means. Brehn gives Oroonoko “virtues that are associated with the idealized European” (Homsland 58), and ignores his African traits. Brehn’s disregard (or lack of research) of African culture, and belief systems shows that she does not care enough to incorporate true African culture into her story. Ignoring African culture, in its true form, does not trouble Brehn in the slightest. While she ignores African culture, she also blitzes the day’s traditional societal…show more content…
17th Century gender roles regarded women to be the lesser sex. Clearly, with Brehn’s characterization and description of Imoinda, women are given more empowerment in Brehn’s society than ever before, even though she expresses a Eurocentric view. Brehn purportedly sides with the women, who, in her text, “are not contained by any fixed position or prospective” (Homsland 59). Ironically, the fact an author even gives women the time of day shows a more progressive perspective. Edwin Johnson shows that this perspective is unique; it consists of a court-desired impact upon social policy that involves the implicit explication that “the English people possess a genetic disposition towards violence, greed, and restless disobedience” (Visconsi 673). These behaviors are something Brehn desires to change with British society. With her application of the novel, she does implicitly impart her then-progressive opinions regarding slavery and gender rights, but she does not dare challenge the established order. Slavery is never outright an evil institution; Brehn purposefully sidesteps the issue to avoid upsetting the Crown, to whom she is loyal (Knoll 576). The Crown would certainly have voided her funds, and Brehn would have been homeless; clearly, Brehn was saving her own skin. Nevertheless, this does not make Brehn’s failure to decry slavery as an evil institution any more justifiable: instead, it makes Brehn

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