ASSIGNMENTDEPICTION OR PRIMITIVE CULTURES IN OROONOKOA
phra Behn's Oroonoko is a powerful novel that o ers a gripping and moving account of the horrors of slavery and inhumanity. It's a seminal work of literature which explores the themes of slavery, colonialism and primitive culture. The story is set in the early sin the British colony of Surinam, the novel o ers readers a unique glimpse into the life of a primitive African culture. It's a captivating story that tells the tale of an African noble prince, Oroonoko and his beloved wife, Imoinda and the events that follow when Oroonoko is captured and sold into slavery in the British colonies of Surinam. Through the narrative
, Behn gives readers a unique insight into the primitive culture of the African people, and highlights the brutality of colonialism. She also o ers a glimpse into the culture of the enslaved people, and their attempts to retain some of their own customs and traditions, despite their subjugation.
In Oroonoko, Aphra Behn presents two very distinct civilizations Coramantien
, an African country ruled by royalty, and Surinam, an English colony in South America that is home to colonists and natives alike. Behn uses this three world dynamic, and how the protagonist Oroonoko ts into each one, to create a complex image of seventeenth century Europe constructed the European cultural and social norms as superior to the others" or the third world cultural norms. Oroonoko is a problematic critique of late-seventeenth-century English colonialism
, with a peculiar emphasis on the slave trade. Oroonoko's story is divided into two parts, both chronologically and geographically. In the rst part, we learn that the hero, Oroonoko, is a respected warrior-prince in his African country of Coramantien. He fell in love with Imoinda
, but his good fortune was soon shattered when his Grandfather, King of Coramantien, became interested in his beloved, Imoinda.When the King's attempts to win Imoinda's love fell through, he decided to sell her into slavery. However, Oroonoko was informed that she is no longer alive. In the second part
, the hero is deceitfully sold as a slave and transported to the South American English colony of Surinam, where he joyfully rediscovers his beloved, Imoinda, meets the narrator, tells her his own story, stages an unsuccessful rebellion
, and is brutally killed by the English colonists.European Colonialism, Power and Slavery :
The British Empire expanded around the world through colonialism, or the process of occupying and controlling another country. Behn does not condemn colonialism rather, she sees England's dominance over other countries as a necessary part of trade. Nonetheless, she investigates the impact of colonialism on native populations as well as the colonisers themselves.
Behn's narrator imagines the native population living in blissful harmony with nature before colonists arrived in
Suriname. Their innocence means they don't have any concept of dishonesty, vice, or evil. She compares them to
Adam and Eve in biblical legend, who lived in peace before knowledge was introduced to the world. With knowledge came sin. Behn compares the colonizers' attempt to civilize native populations with the devastating introduction of knowledge to people who were better o without it. Colonizers introduce religion and laws,
practices the Europeans consider necessary to preserve order. However, Behn's narrator argues that these practices only teach native people to lie
, scheme, and manipulate. The African country of Coramantien has strict laws, but the citizens follow these laws and respect them. Even the cunning king, who abuses his power to marry Imoinda, feels guilty he didn't give her an honorable death. Behn portrays Coramantien as more civilized and self-regulated than the European society that enslaves Coramantien's people.
Although it may improve England's economy as a whole, colonialism has the potential to corrupt people. The narrator of Behn's story sees how settlers like Byam become more ruthless as they have more power. Byam discusses Caesar's destiny with the council of English colonists
, which is made up of uncivilized individuals who ght among themselves and use profanity. Byam delivers portions of Caesar's body to slave masters so they can intimidate their slaves into obedience, encouraging them to rule their slaves via fear and intimidation. Some slave owners, like Trefry and Colonel Martin, are shown by Behn as genuinely kind people, but they don't have as much in uence as others who are prepared to rule violently. Caesar's punishment and death cannot be stopped.