Romantic Obsession in Oroonoko

2 February 2017

The importance of the first person perspective in Oroonoko is it allows the reader to see the story through her perspective allowing them to question the validity of her tales entrancing them in everyday speech.

She seeks control over Oroonoko and Imonida in times where she feels threatened to assure the readers that she is the primary character. Although she expresses multiple times in the text that her tales are true it is the reader’s job to question her credentials.Because of Behn’s gender she struggled that much more with trying to become a writer, she needs to remind her readers that although she may be a female portraying the stereotyped lady-like innocence it does not change the facts of her story. She tries to add some normalcy and realism to her text to help drive the readers into the story with stressing the importance of class on independence and freedom. As well, she tries to make the reader sympathize with her while avoiding negative association.The narrative voice in Oroonoko can be described as an inclusive narrative however she is also intrusive to the reader which can be observed in her writing style which is similar to everyday speech. In this paper I will argue that society has a brainwashing consequence on the female narrator as she described the beauties and justifiability behind their cruel acts; however, the life of Oroonoko is tragic and succumbs to the attempted control of his sublime power of thought.

Romantic Obsession in Oroonoko Essay Example

In a predominant patriarchal society, It have a negating factor on the perception and values of the female voice.The text demonstrates how society attempts to govern women; yet, the narrator tries to curb the opinions of its readers without the help of man. Thus leading to her lack of confidence in her own writing and constant validation of her credentials. In her text she referes to negative characters as they such as the captain and those actively participating the slave trade business. Yet, when she speaks of positive influences of colonialism she says we instead to show her presence while sticking within the ideals of society.It is as though Karma has played a vital role and has shown Oroonoko what the harsh realities of the slave trade. She demonstrates sympathy towards him though, which develops the romanticised perception of Oroonoko and influences her narrative voice because he is a wealthy man of higher status by describing him as, “But he who has the good fortune to draw a face that is exactly charming in all its parts and features, what colours or agreements can be added to make it finer” (Behn 3).

He is described as being a flawless man, which has very European attributes however his only fault is the colour of his skin. There is a sense of favouritism towards Oroonoko’s physical body compared to the other slaves present at the Plantation, her favouritism can be seen in the following, “He suffered only the name of a slave, and had nothing of the toil and labour of one, yet that was sufficient to render him uneasy” (46).She places Oroonoko above the others and believes that his treatment should be differen; this can be seen when the slaves are taken onto the boat and he is abused just like the others. An instance where his wealth and status did not matter and the narrator states, “The same treachery was used on all the rest”. Her own personal relationship with Oroonoko leads to the attempted validation of the true facts of the tale. Without the narrator representing the white middle class female population the idea of class and gender would not be seen as important within this text.Her social standing as a Middle-class Englishwoman allowed for her to travel and make her observations possible.

Within this social hierarchy it allowed the narrator to struggle with the central topics of realism and romanticism as she says, “She vowed it was a palace, while adorned with the presence of Oroonoko” (43). In the introduction letter to the lord she explains to him that she understands that the text may come off as romantic but it was not her intention, “If there be anything that seems Romantic, I eseech your Lordship to consider these countries do, in all things, so far differ from ours, that they produce unconceivable wonders; atleast they appear so to us because new and strange” (5). Her realistic approach to details of Surinam and the accounts of an unrealistic slave trade were impeded but her obsession with Oroonoko. The other title given to this text is Royal Slave, by having the words royal and slave in reference to the same person seems almost to be an oxymoron because usually the royal families were the ones with the slaves they did not normally become the slaves.The narrator attempts to seem as though she is a strong authoritative figure, which was hard during her time period because it was a dominant male-controlled society. By Aphra Behn being the first female profession writer she had to make a name and stance for herself and make her words have a large impact on the readers, this can be observed in the following quote “But, his misfortune was to fall in an obscure world, that afforded only a female pen to celebrate his fame; though I doubt not but had lived from others’ endeavours” (40).Her attempts to demonstrate to her readers that she has authority over the future of Oroonoko by promising him freedom; however, the end result is not successful and Oroonoko is killed tragically by the dominate men of their association, this is explained in the following quote, “A true story of a man gallant enough to merit your protect; and, had he always been so fortunate, he had not made so inglorious and end … I had non above me in that country, I wanted power to preserve this great man” (5).

Even Oroonoko was treated as a product which can be seen when the narrator states; “[B]e there more or less of either sex, you are obliged to be contented with our lot” (9). She attempts to seek respect though the control of Oroonoko and her detailed account of his life as a slave. The way for Oroonoko to become immortal is through the autobiographic account of the narrative voice She initially feels as though she can dictate and govern the life of Oroonoko giving her more authority then most women of her generation.She does not have very much confidence in her one writing and this can be seen in the following quote; “Some have condemned this act, as brave in the captain but I will spare my sense of it, and leave it to my reader to judge as he please” (34), paying attention to the use of the word he she is putting down her own opinion and devaluing her own writing and facts about her journal. Imoinda’s sacrifice is also a great example of the control men possess over women in the text, she allows herself to be killed by her husband for revenge on the white men, this is seen in the following, “No.Since I have sacrificed Imoinda to my revenge, shall I lose that glory which I have purchased so dear as the price of fairest, dearest, softest creature that ever nature made? No, no” (68). By developing that control over the readers she is able to depict Oroonoko in a beautiful way, yet she is unable to follow through with her word of freedom because men ultimately have the final say in her patriarchal society.

It becomes apparent while reading this text that there is a hidden bias in her inclusive narrative voice, although she may not preach to her readers her biases of romanticism in contrast to realism are made quite apparent.This personal bias comes from the influences of a patriarchal society were even being the first female professional writer will not make her text more believable or respected. Her initial bias of the slave trade is what drives the text; she is neither for nor against slavery, the only time she demonstrates a stance is when she speaks of Oroonoko and the injustice of the Royal Slave being trapped in an unjust system. Work Cited Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko and Other Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

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