What is Behn's representation of slavery in the novel Oroonoko?

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In the novel Oroonoko, Behn's representation of slavery is horrible, which it was. It is a tragic story and the horrors of slavery are being well told in the story. Oroonoko is an African prince who falls in love with Imoinda. His grandfather, the king, decides that he wants Imoinda for himself. Oroonoko and Imoinda have married, but his grandfather sends for her to make her his own wife. She goes and Oroonoko is devastated. The grandfather ultimately sells her into slavery. Oroonoko fights a battle and defends his grandfather's crown, but is tricked into going onto a slave ship, with the promise of a celebration. Oroonoko ends up on a plantation and discovers that Imoinda is at the same place. They are reunited and she learns she is going to have his baby. Oroonoko doesn't want his child raised in slavery, so he tries to escape with his family, to tragic results.

In the story, the issue of slavery is a main focal point. Although it is a short novel, it has far reaching results for the reader. Behn shows us the savagery of slavery and the slave owners. She shows how the people sold into slavery had their names changed, to prevent any personal identity for them. She also shows us how the affects of slavery change people. Oroonoko has to make devastating decisions for the sake of his wife and unborn child, which he would not have had to make if he were not a slave. 

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deluxe | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Aphra Behn,s Oroonoko presents slavery as an inhumane entity. This is revealed through the maltreatments that those captured as slaves received in the hands of their masters. also, Behn presents slavery as condition that leads to the loss of human identity. We perceive this when oroonoko and other characters had to be given new names  as a way of ushering them into an entirely new religion with its new sets of beliefs  But let me add that, some scholars may treat this same issue as that of a clash of cultures.

Through this book, Behn also brings reveals how effectively the slave masters engaged the tool of persuasion in the acquisition of slaves. this is evident in how Orooko and his friends were lured into the ship and later captured as slaves. This tool of deception and persuasion was further developed when orooko and his friends demanded for their release on their way to the farms. they were promised freedom but this promise was never honored.  

Behn aslo presented slaver as not an entity that was totally implemented by Westerners.  She revealed the role played by some inluencial natives also did facilitate this inhuman transaction. This we see in the selling of Immuenda by Oroonoko's grandfather into slavery.

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