Slavery in Oroonoko

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ENL 4230 Dr. Oliver Oroonoko- The Ultimate Slave Narrative: Women and Their Masters Aphra Behn presents us with an extensive parody in her novel Oroonoko: a complete slave narrative, depicting the enslavement of both man and woman. She uses historical fact as well as semi-anthropologically accurate setting to reveal the truth in her words. Historically speaking, women were slaves for centuries before the white man enslaved the black man. Women were bartered and sold into marriage, abuses and forced to work under the watchful eyes of her husband. Aphra Behn demonstrates this though Imoinda’s character development, or lack thereof. The fact that this is considered a “historically” accurate text validates the reality of the issue…show more content…
However, once the slave market opened up and expanded, slaves became the major commodities: being a white slave owner developed into the very definition of wealth and prestige, of class and sophistication. Slave women became fetishes for white slave owners. Hegemony is defined as the dominance and influence of one social class over others. As Raymond Williams puts it, “hegemony is a concept which at once includes and goes beyond two powerful earlier concepts: that of ‘culture’ as a ‘whole social process’, in which men define and shape their [and those which they control, i.e. women] whole lives; and that of ‘ideology’, in any of its Marxist senses, in which a system of meanings and values is the expression or projection of a particular class [white-European wealthy male] interest” (108). Subsequently, the needs of this hegemony, this ideology-plus, defines the commodities of the time. A commodity is a product of value and use, separate from a service. In other words, the individual ho provides the service, is technically, a commodity. The predominant social class being that of the wealthy white European male, this hegemony, is then capable deciding what is acceptable in society and what is not. In a capitalist’s society, Imoinda’s place became that of a commodity. In a consumerist’s society, Imoinda’s place became that of a fetish, every man capable
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