Write a critical analysis of Aphra Behn' novella Oroonoko, paying special attention to the representation of black Africans. What makes Oroonoko a positive character? Is he superior or inferior to the whites in the novella? Oroonoko a Royal slave or a monstrous Negro
“ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the most significant figures in the rise of the novel in the Restoration period(or The Long Eighteenth Century period) is Aphra Behn and her novella Oroonoko or the Royal slave. Although it is impossible to satisfactorily date the beginning of the novel in English, long fiction and fictional biographies began to distinguish themselves from other forms in England during this period(1). It is the first English novel to show Black Africans in a sympathetic manner. Oroonoko has been viewed now as an important marker in the development of the "noble savage” theme.Described as a very emotional and “humanitarian novel”(2) Behn’s work is one of the examples of slavery protests. Many critics are arguing whether Aphra Behn’s story is biographical or not. However there aren’t any certain proves of that, we can view the contacts with the African culture and her observations about African blacks only from her text. The representation of black Africans in Oroonoko is very complex and controversial. On the one hand female authors always had had more humanistic and philosophical positions than men in that period of time, especially about issues like colonization and slavery. They had more positive attitude towards the native and were anti-colonial:“I tell you the manner of bringing them to these new colonies; those they make use of there not being natives of the place: for those we live with in perfect amity, without daring to command ’em; but, on...
Cited: (1)-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_literature#Restoration_literature (2)-Cross. Wilbur L. (1899) (3,4,5,6,7,8)- http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/behn/aphra/b42o/index.html (9)-"New hystericism: Aphra Behn 's Oroonoko: the body, the text and the feminist critic," in: Isobel Armstrong, ed. New Feminist Discourses: Critical Essays on Theories and Texts (London: Routledge, 1992): 283-95; and Charlotte Sussmann, "The Other Problem with Women: Reproduction and Slave Culture in Aphra Behn 's Oroonoko," in: Rereading Aphra Behn: History, Theory and Criticism, Heidi Hutner, ed. (Charlotesville: Universtiy Press of Virginia, 1993): 215.
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