The story, Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave, written by Aphra Behn, depicts the main character, Oroonoko, as being an African prince that lives among his people, whom all abide by a code of virtue and fidelity. When Oroonoko is faced with a dilemma in his own country and living among a “civilized” white society, that are devout Christians, he is confronted with the burden to uphold his code of virtue and maintain a title of being a “Noble Savage” by means of loyalty, religious beliefs, and honor.
Oroonoko is able to sustain his code of virtue and fidelity by showing an act of true loyalty that proves his devotion and love to his lover and wife, Imoinda. After the King, Oroonoko’s grandfather, vigorously takes Imoinda for himself, Oroonoko …show more content…
Oroonoko responds to the captain’s promise, with his own promise:
Let him know I swear by my honor; which to violate, would not only render me contemptible and despised by all brave and honest men, and so give myself perpetual pain, but it would eternally offending and diseasing all man kind....(2333)
After these commitments are made, Oroonoko keeps his promise to the captain, but unfortunately the captain's promise deems as nothing but empty words. Oroonoko proves that worshiping a God, or a man's religious faith, is not what holds a true code of virtue, but his true beliefs of honor and truthfulness.
Lastly, Oroonoko is able to uphold the code of virtue by maintaining his honor and not give into the evils and broken promises of the deceitful civilized white man. Rather than be destined to a life of slavery for himself, his wife, and unborn child, Oroonoko displays an act of honor by killing his wife and unborn child and setting them free. Even through all his misery, Oroonoko is able to maintain his honor to his dying breath. This is apparent when Oroonoko is captured in the woods after he kills Imoinda and awaits his death with honor at the hands of the white slave owners.
“A blessing on thee,” and assured them [white men] they need not tie him, for he would stand fixed like a
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This unexpected shift in Okonkwo’s behavior and leads the reader and to question what Okonkwo will do with this conflict. Will Okonkwo demonstrate his strengths and slay his adopted son or will he save Ikemefuna from getting killed? This relates to what Biblical style brings according to Erich Auerbach, as we see suspense on what Okonkwo will do with the situation of choosing either tradition or family.
Okonkwo's fear of being perceived as weak tragically leads to him to be unnecessarily violent and excessively prideful. These two fatal flaws lead to Okonkwo’s own emotional isolation, and his inevitable downfall. Driven by the fear of being seen as weak and emasculated, Okonkwo exhibits hyper masculinity and rage. Although this behavior initially leads to success in the patriarchal society of Umofia, rage is his greatest bane: it masks his compassion and pusillanimity. Onkonkwo’s obsession to never appear feminine is driven to the extreme. He denies affection even to his own family, “never show[ing] any emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To [Okonkwo] show[ing] affection was a sign of weakness; the only thing worth demonstrating was strength.” (pg. 28). Okonkwo whose “whole life [is] dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness.” (pg. 13) suppress his compassion in order to appear important and manly. Ironically this creates a stark juxtaposition between his own fear and his position as an alpha male. Rather than being masculine and courageous, Okonkwo just creates tension within his family and within himself. The pinnacle of this extreme hypermasculinity is when Okonkwo ignores the wisdom of the elder Ezeudu, and violently kills his “son” Ikamafuna: “As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He had heard Ikamafuna cry “My father, they have killed me!”
The cruelty of the slave owners sparks a rebellion led by Oroonoko, which fails. The slaves are punished in the most merciless manner: they are whipped so
Olaudah Equiano 's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, is the story of the eponymous real-life character, Olaudah Equiano, his life, trials, tribulations and journey from slavery at an early age to freedom. For Equiano, it seems that slavery is almost a metaphysical phenomenon. His entire life is essentially characterized by the different experiences relating slavery, from Africa to the Middle Passage to plantation life in the West Indies and United States. Equiano’s views on slavery are tough to articulate and truly complex. Throughout the novel he makes reference to different ‘degrees of slavery,’ at times condemning the practice, and at other times contradicting
Although her description makes Oroonoko seem rather stunning, it is a rather disrespectful description to the native Negro people. Her description makes it sound like slaves are not equal and due to fact that Oroonoko was a Prince, they did not put him in the same category as the other slaves and treated him with decency and respect, almost as if it was a double standard. Her story gets even more confusing when Oroonoko is kidnapped and sold into slavery himself by the same person that once helped Oroonoko traffic slaves. After he was captured and enslaved, he is treated humanely by his captor, which seems rather odd since most other slaves were treated very poorly. He is renamed Caesar (slaves were renamed at that time), I assume for his strength and nobility. Once at the slave camp, “he is received more like a governor than a slave” (Behn 209). He was even given land away from the other slaves, as if to separate him and treat him more like a king. He then finds his love, Imoinda living in a cottage with a cute little dog, which paints a very pretty picture, almost like a fairy tale, which again, is in sharp contrast of most depictions of slave quarters during this time. Caesar has elaborate feasts prepared in his honor, and it seems that there is, for lack of a better word, a party atmosphere in the camp. He was also given more freedoms than the slaves he must live with; he is even allowed to accompany the narrator of the story on a trip
In the Bible, the book of Hebrews states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (King James Bible, Hebrews. 11.1).The spiritual tones of “things hoped for”, plays a significant role throughout Olaudah Equiano autobiography, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano OR, Gustavus Vassa, The African”. Originally published in 1789, Equiano’s narrative went through a series of revisions throughout his lifetime, finally becoming a bestseller. Equiano’s treasured writing depicts his personal accounts from childhood, holding the status of an African aristocrat in Benin, West Africa, to being kidnapped and forced into slavery in the infamous Middle Passage slave trade. While slavery, attempts to divest Equiano of his hope for freedom, his narrative asserts that spirituality and literary works produce its own liberty and identity in the world.
The cruel and harsh treatment of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth century is something that in today’s millennium a person could not even dream of. Slaves were known to be illiterate; however there are few that had the opportunity to be educated and from them society has a small glimpse into the past. There are two slaves in particular that give people a way to see life through their eyes. Frederick Douglass and Olaudah Equiano were two slaves during those times that were forced into the world of slavery. Frederick Douglass’s “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave” and Olaudah Equiano’s “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” are literary pieces that talk about their views, experiences, and ideas in relation to slavery.
He states “Have they vanquished us nobly in fight? Have they won us in honorable battle? And are we by the chance of war become their slaves? This would not anger a noble heart; this would not animate a soldier’s soul.”(6) So essentially he believes that slaves are good and they help with work “around the house”, but the only way to get slaves is through war. One could argue that he was against slavery because later after he is captured upon a ship, he makes this long speech about freedom and wanting all the other slaves to be free. Oroonoko only makes this speech after he finds out that Imoinda is expecting a child and his appeal for freedom is denied. I am inferring that Oroonoko may not actually give two shits about the slaves, but is more so concerned for the safety of his family and he simply uses the slaves to get his family to “safety”. The Author seems to have found herself in Oroonoko. She most likely, inherently believed that slaves were only rightfully owned if they are received through a war victory.
Oroonoko, the story of the royal prince. Oroonoko was a beautiful and well educated African American prince. He ends up getting forced into slavery. While he is enslaved, he ends up being reunited with his lost love, Imoinda. The two of them become with child. Oroonoko did not want his family to be enslaved, he orchestrated an escape plan. When his plan failed, he took matters in his own hands.
Okonkwo is initially introduced as a proud, hardworking, successful warrior. He is described as "clearly cut out for great things" (6). But he is the son of a ne'er-do-well father; though genial and inoffensive, Unoka must certainly have been considered a failure. He is lazy and does not provide for his family. Not only is this disgraceful, but life-threatening as well. He is dependent on other members of the clan and must have been considered unsuccessful. Okonkwo chafes under such disgrace and his success is a consequence of his desire to be everything his father is not; society's vision of an exemplar citizen. The fact that Okonkwo is able to rise above his poverty and disgraceful paternity illustrates the Igbo's acceptance of individual free will. But Okonkwo's fate and his disharmony with his chi, family and clan are shown to cause his ultimate disgrace and death.
Okonkwo has a tragic flaw, dark downfall, but does not recognize his flaw as the cause of his downfall. This conveys the theme that one’s insecurity will lead to their demise, regardless of their intent. First, Okonkwo’s flaw is his insecurity rooted in his need for masculinity. Okonkwo fears the idea that “he should be found to resemble his father” and was a “man of action, a man of war. Unlike his father he could stand the look of blood” (13, 10). Given how Okonkwo’s father was a man of no wealth or status, he was seen as feminine. Refusing to resemble his father, Okonkwo becomes a strong, masculine man. Additionally, Okonkwo’s downfall was the result of multiple events that threaten his masculinity. Okonkwo’s first major offense was killing Ikemefuna out of fear of weakness despite being told to “not bear a hand in his death” (57). Additionally, the crime that forced Okonkwo into exile is when his “gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pierced the boy’s heart” (124). Furthermore, Okonkwo’s need for power causes him to kill a messenger as his “machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body” (204). As a result of his need to appear masculine, Okonkwo makes one foolish decision after another that culminate to his downfall. His refusal to not kill Ikemefuna was done out of fear of seeming weak, his crime that sent him to exile was deemed
Okonkwo’s participation in the slaying of his adopted son, Ikemefuna is a pivotal moment in Things Fall Apart. It is a moment of horror that cannot please Ani, the great earth goddess, the center of community, the ultimate judge of morality for the clan. It is a moment that changes the course of events, a moment eerily paralleled in the death of Ezeudu’s son. It is a moment that ultimately causes Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye’s to abandon his ancestors and become a Christian. It is a moment when the center of community life, the need to honor blood ties and the need to respect the earth goddess, can no longer hold. It is a moment when things fall apart.
We sense that the death of Ikemefuna has been a turning point in the story. The sense of foreboding grows. We know the inevitability of disaster now; the crisis is developing. Okonkwo has ignored the advice of Ezeudu, the wise man inserted in the tale in traditional Greek form. Although he was warned, Okonkwo kills the boy to show his strength, his bravery,
Aphra Behn’s novel, Oroonoko, gives a very different perspective on a slave narrative. Her characters embody various characteristics not usually given to those genders and races. Imoinda’s character represents both the modern feminist, as well as the subservient and mental characteristics of the typical eighteenth-century English woman. Oroonoko becomes an embodiment of what is normally a white man’s characteristic; he is the noble, princely, and sympathetic character that is not usually attributed to black men in general throughout most novels of slavery. The complete opposite character style is given to the slavers; the English are viewed as the barbaric, cunning, brutal characters that are usually portrayed in opposite and more generous
This leads to Oroonoko killing her by "first cutting her throat, and then severing her yet smiling face from that delicate body, pregnant as it was with the fruits of tenderest love." (Behn, Oroonoko 218). Thereby, Imoinda's loss of identity is complete: She has lost her agency, her name, her life and even her face has been torn off. She suffered all these brutalities by the hands of men who either wanted to possess her or claimed to love her (in Oroonoko's case both). The narrative ends with her as the narrator states: "Yet, I hope, the reputation of my pen is considerable enough to make his glorious name to survive to all ages, with that of the brave, the beautiful, and the constant Imoinda" (Behn, Oroonoko 224). This leaves the reader with the idea of Imoinda rather than the person presented towards at the end of the narrative whose face was torn