Essay on Aphra Behn's Oroonoko – Slaughter of the Human Spirit

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Oroonoko – Slaughter of the Human Spirit

Aphra Behn introduces her characters in Oroonoko as beautiful people who possess a pure, innocent love. Behn does this in an effort to make her readers feel and question. Her poetic description of their emotions magnify the horror of the final scene. Behn's romantic love story is brought to a tragic end through brutality and death. Why did she choose such an ending? Her decision to have Oroonoko take the life of his wife and unborn child leaves her audience questioning. Was what they had love? If not, what was it? What had killed their innocence?

The story of Oroonoko and Imoinda began with him approaching her and ended with the cut of his knife. Oroonoko both began and
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The tiger dies without a fight.

After he had conquered the beast, he takes his knife and cuts open her heart. "Tis a Notion commonly receiv'd with us, That nothing can receive a Wound in the Heart and Live; but when the Heart of this courageous Animal was taken out, there were Seven Bullets of Lead in it, and the Wounds seem'd up with great scars."(pg. 46) Just as Oroonoko killed this beast, slavery had killed Oroonoko. The tiger stands as a symbol of Oroonoko, a creature both fierce and fearful. Why is it that Oroonoko had finally lost his power? Why was he now fearful?

Throughout the story, Oroonoko encounters many hardships. He loses his wife to the King, is convinced that the King has killed Imoinda, and is sold into slavery. However, through all this Oroonoko continues onward. He still has his hope and control. He still feels as though he has some power. He can determine his own future. He has a choice. Like the tiger, his heart had been struck with many bullets, but he continued to live. However, this strong man was not without weakness. His weakness was Imoinda. "Her Griefs were so many Darts in the Great Heart of Oroonoko." He knew that he was going to die after leading the slave revolt. He couldn't stand the thought of leaving her behind. Imagining her alone with her new born child helpless under the power of the master was the arrow that finally took Oroonoko's life, the arrow that
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