Essay on The Novel Oroonoko By Aphra Behn

Essay on The Novel Oroonoko By Aphra Behn

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The novel Oroonoko by Aphra Behn reveals a story about the popular business in the 1640s of the British slave trade. Shipments of slaves were sent off to a country in South America named Suriname where they worked on the rich sugar crop fields. In the novel, the main character, Oroonoko, was prince of an African country, Coramantien, and possessed qualities of a highly educated Englishman. Oroonoko’s life changed when he met the beautiful Imoinda who later is stolen by his grandfather and sent off to Suriname after a major conflict. Furthermore, Oroonoko was deceived into slavery, but also made foolish decisions along the way that could have prevented many tragic circumstances. Some see him as a victim during his hardships, while others view him as the instigator of his own befall. In this story, Oroonoko is meant to be looked at as an unsympathetic figure.
Hypocrisy is one of the ways in which Oroonoko deserved his fate. After being hoaxed by the captain, he announces some words of motivation to the other slaves. Behn says, “He besought them to bear their chains with that Bravery that became those whom he had seen act so nobly in Arms” (Behn, 33). When Oroonoko was in Coramantien, he participated in the slave trade business. Now, he feels as if he understands their resentment, but Oroonoko would have used them as slaves back in his country. Moreover, Oroonoko only receives the title of a slave and doesn’t accomplish any hard labor on the plantation. The plantation owner views him as a respectable royal and only gives him a management job over the slaves. Behn explains Oroonoko’s plantation experience as being “receiv’d as a Governor…to put him to his task, he endur’d no more of the Slave but the Name, and remained som...


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...dignity till the end, but his final actions would cancel out any honor he had left. A man of true dignity would not let revenge dictate his decisions and cause himself to kill his own wife. In order to avoid the tragic deaths of both Iomoinda and himself, Oroonoko should have been stronger than his beastly instincts.
Contributing to Oroonoko’s deserving fate was his hypocritical stance on slavery, gullibility towards the captain and Byam and the depletion of his mind caused by his engrossing revenge plots. In the end, Oroonoko concludes that slavery is worse than death and murders the ones he loves thinking he is saving them. Even though Oroonoko is a fictional novel, some of the content can be related to historical information involving slavery. Suffering through the hard labor and punishments, many slaves probably did believe that slavery was worse than death.

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