Oroonoko by Aphra Behn Essays

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn Essays

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Originally published in 1688, Aphra Behn’s groundbreaking novel Oronooko remains a rich artifact for decoding the context and era in which it was written in. When Oroonoko had first been published, the basic concept of the novel as a writing technique was still in early experimental stages. Aphra Behn, though, through countless stylistic techniques and interwoven patterns, seamlessly wrote one of the earliest and most important novels of all time. This essay will elaborate upon such stylistic traits and patterns and further the reader’s understanding of not only the novel, but also what Oroonoko really said about the culture of the time period. This essay will achieve such tasks by performing a close reading of a passage of Oroonoko beginning with ‘It was thus, for some time we diverted him.’ The passage then ending with ‘But if there were a woman among them so degenerate from love and virtue to choose slavery before the pursuit of her husband, and with the hazard of her life, to share with him in his fortunes, that such an one ought to be abandoned, and left as a prey to the common enemy.’ Firstly, this essay will illustrate the stylistic techniques that Behn used to further her perspectives. Secondly, this essay will enhance the reader’s understanding by describing the thematic repetitions in Behn’s work such as the roles of gender, class, and colonialism in the 17th century. Lastly, this essay will provide further detail upon what Oroonoko said about the context in which it was written in.
When one reads Oroonoko, one can tell that Behn’s phrasing is very particular and each phrase serves the novel in a different way. An interesting concept that Behn uses regarding the style of her novel is the voice of the narrator. Havin...


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... this time period. In the 17th century, class and superiority was very much intertwined with race and color.
In conclusion, when one looks at the context of Oroonoko, the themes of gender inequality, class, and colonialism are all exceedingly pertinent for the culture and society of the 17th century. All three of these themes are also intertwined with one another as well. Oroonoko provides a refreshing perspective apart from many novels of the 17th century. Rather than defending the British who had tricked Oroonoko, Behn tells the story from the perspective of Oroonoko and Imoinda.




Works Cited

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, The Rover, and Other Works, (London: the Penguin Group , 1992), 75-141.

Corrinne Harol, ‘The passion of Oroonoko: passive obedience, the royal slave, and Aphra Behn's Baroque realism.’, Journal of English Literary History, 79:2 (2012), 447-75

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