Write a critical analysis of Aphra Behn' novella Oroonoko, paying special attention to the representation of black Africans. What makes Oroonoko a positive character? Is he superior or inferior to the whites in the novella? Oroonoko a Royal slave or a monstrous Negro “ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the most significant figures in the rise of the novel in the Restoration period(or The Long Eighteenth Century period) is Aphra Behn and her novella Oroonoko or the Royal slave. Although it is impossible to
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This romantic view of Aphra Behn’s protagonist has getting us far from an eventually biographical line of the story, and bring to us more idealistic and a fictional story. Renaming Oroonoko with his slavery name is another controversy. This new name, Caesar, imposes upon the black character the quintessential Western culture and gives him, in a way, a new past: “I ought to tell you, that the Christians never buy any slaves but they give ‘em some Name of their own, their native ones being likely very Barbarous and hard to pronounce,so that Mr. Trefry gave Oroonoko that of Caesar; which name will live in that country as long as that (scarce more) glorious one of the great Roman”(7)Although his new name characterizes again a great man and symbolizes braveness and strong spirit.
There are a lot of examples of that Oroonoko (or Caesar) is a positive character. Along with his sense of dignity and justice and his strong spirit he is a great orator too and he knows how to motivate the rest of the slaves not give up and to fight for their rights and freedom: “and that Caesar ought to be made an example to all the negroes, to fright ’em from daring to threaten their betters, their lords and masters“(8).Even thought he kills Imoinda pregnant with his unborn child, and for the white characters of the novella he is a black monster, he still to the readers the hero of the story.