As horrible an act slavery is, it was a common practice in England up until the year 1833. Therefore, the occurrence found in the work of Oroonoko : Or the Royal slave by Behn and the information learned in Slavery and the slave trade, found in the Norton Anthology helps the reader put into context the practices of slavery and the slave trade in England during the late 17th century. This story is a criticism of slavery practices and Behn’s dislike of the practices shown through the text by example of the cruel practices of the slave trades.
The first significant practice of the slave trade was war being a key way to obtain slaves . War is briefly mentioned in Oroonoko . In particular on page 2318 where it’s mentioned that there was a war occurring between an unknown state and Coramantien. “Oroonoko coming from war the wars which were now ended [and to present her with those slaves that had been taken in this last battle].” (Behn) Analyzing this quote we can assume, as is pointed out, that taking the slaves of the loser of the battle was not uncommon and was actually the common practice during this time period. It should also be noted that as part of political talks or exchanges, it wasn’t uncommon to offer some sort of gift, often in the form of slaves, as occurs in the text. Both of these facts are particularly fascinating when you analyze what little we actually know about the location of Coramantien, set in the Gold Coast of Africa, and what we would know today as Uganda. Behn gives little detail on this location, instead wanting us to focus on underlying themes and characters. This is an important detail since setting plays a very important role in this work, helping to establish so...
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...things are and always have been. Behn points out that there are various ranks within class that should be rearranged to correct society . As I pointed out previously, she is trying to make a commentary whilst treading a fine line . All of this ties together into what I believe was Behn’s subtle revolutionary reference to what she felt were injustice’s in the class system in general.
The final thing I want to discuss is a very important quote from Oroonoko “
In conclusion the story of Oroonoko is about what a horrible thing the slave trade was and the reasons it was so horrible. The text critiques these practices in a reflective way so as to constructively criticize society and the slave trade without causing too much uproar. This text is a tale of warning to future generations of what to avoid, this being the enslavement of anyone no matter their race or gender.
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