An Analysis of Oroonoko's Blackness Essay

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An Analysis of Oroonoko's Blackness In her essay "Oroonoko's Blackness," Katherine Gallagher argues that there are three layers to "Oroonoko." These layers are Oroonoko's kingship, the relationship between Oroonoko's blackness and the black ink, and the commodofication of Oroonoko. Gallagher argues that Oroonoko's blackness not only illuminates the text itself but also the author's presence as well. She writes that, "…the gleaming blackness of the eponymous hero corresponds to the narrator's heightened presence."(DeMaria, BL Critical Reader, 88). Therefore, Oroonoko and Behn step into the light because of the black print and the jet-black skin of Behn's hero. In her essay Gallagher makes many assumptions regarding the audience who…show more content…
Secondly, Gallagher assumes that her reader knows biographical information regarding Aphra Behn. In her essay, Katherine Gallagher states that Behn did in fact travel to Surinam. She writes: "Like him, she arrives a stranger in Surinam, but is immediately recognized as superior to the local inhabitants."(BL Critical Reader, 89). Knowing this information about Behn's life gives her more authority as a writer, thus allowing her to write more knowledgeably about the slave trade. This additional knowledge and authority about slave trading also serves to enrich the text itself and, again, adds more stability to Gallagher's argument in "Oroonoko's Blackness." Next, Gallagher presumes that the reader possesses knowledge regarding literary techniques. According to Gallagher, Oroonoko is "a perfectly conventional European tragic hero."(DeMaria, 90). In order for the reader to understand and believe her statement, he or she must know what a European tragic hero is. Katherine Gallagher's final assumption concerns the slave trade. The reader must know what the slave trade is and how it functioned. In order to understand why Oroonoko's jet-black skin makes him a more important being than those "brown-blacks" who are sold as slaves and are somehow beneath Oroonoko, the reader must know that slaves were often sold after being taken captive in a war. Oroonoko is able to remain free and even somewhat free

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