Sketch the character of Oroonoko.

Sketch the character of Oroonoko.

Introduction: Aphra Behn’s (1688) novel, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave, is credited as one of the earliest examples of an English novel due to its linear structure and biographical account. It is a fictional account of the titular character’s life. It follows Oroonoko, an African prince, who is tricked into slavery and eventually leads a rebellion.

Model of an epic hero: Oroonoko has noble birth and royal titles. He is modelled after an epic hero. His modesty makes him human. As he encourages his army to choose a new leader, he tells them to look beyond traditional signs of success. This motivation will be significant to Oroonoko later as he struggles to maintain his courage in slavery. By presenting a slave as her hero, Behn agrees those without “titles” or markers of social status have more opportunities to prove their courage

“It is not titles that make men brave or good or birth that bestows courage.

Impressive hero with the tragic flaw: Oroonoko is an African general beloved by his people, retaining his dignity in slavery. White settlers are impressed by Oroonoko’s Western education, innate intelligence, and diplomacy, but Oroonoko’s flaw is easily traceable.

“The man of no honor suffers… the scorn and contempt of the honester world.”

Like many epic heroes, Oroonoko has a fatal flaw. His flaw is trusting the people around him-believing everyone is as honest as he is. This quote sums up his worldview. He believes anyone who breaks an oath suffers ”scorn and contempt.” However, on the Suriname plantation, those who break oaths remain in positions of power.

Paramount gratefulness in Oroonoko: When Oroonoko turns 17, an army general sacrifices his own life to spare him in battle. Oroonoko then receives a promotion to general. The general who dies to save Oroonoko leaves behind a beautiful and charming daughter, Imoinda. After Oroonoko goes to court to see his grandfather, he decides to pay his respects to the dead general’s family. Eventually, he goes to the recently deceased general’s house. When Oroonoko meets Imoinda, he is astounded by her grace and compassion. She is equally amazed by him. The two instantly fall in love. Oroonoko begins to woo Imoinda. Because of his sense of honor, he delays physical intimacy. He vows she will be the only woman he loves in his life. Imoinda agrees to marry him too.

Lack of sagacity: Trust and loyalty are values that Oroonoko holds close to his art as well. However, his naive sense of character among people leads to his downfall. When the ship commander asks Oroonoko to join him on the boat for dinner and drinks, the prince does not give it a second thought. He never once lies in any doubt of the commander’s intentions. If he had been more cautious or weary about why the commander would invite him, he could have avoided this situation. But this is not the fault of Oroonoko because a person judges others on his honest notion. It is evident by the narrator:

“The whole proportion and air of his face was so nobly and exactly formed that, bating his color, there could be nothing in nature more beautiful, agreeable, and handsome.

Inborn leadership quality: Oroonoko speaks of honesty in slavery, and to simply buy and sell people is morally and politically unjust.

They had lost the divine quality of man, and were become insensible asses.”

In war, slavery is a common trade between enemies but it is quite inhuman as a business. Being enslaved and under another power. It would have been easy for Oroonoko to give up and submit to the new master His new master treats Oroonoko well and gives him e good life, despite having to serve him as a way of life. But Oroonoko is a born leader which is why he does not know how to surrender Oroonoko now finds the will courage, and leadership to do what he can do to free not only himself but also his one true love.

আরো পড়ুন: Justify Robert Browning as an Optimistic poet.

The symbolic meaning of the slave name: Caesar is the slave name of Oroonoko. This slave name is given to Oroonoko by Trefry when he arrives in Surinam. The name is an allusion to Julius Caesar, the Roman emperor who was assassinated by his friends. Thus, this name symbolizes that Oroonoko will be betrayed by those who are his so-called friends.

Undefeated tragic hero: Being betrayed by his fellow slaves, Caesar comes up with a plan that is horrifying but brave. He takes Imoinda into the woods and explains his plan to kill her, then his enemies, and then himself. Imoinda agrees and begs to die an honorable death at Caesar’s hands. Grieving, he professes his love one last time and then kills her and her unborn child. Caesar mourns for two days and rests for six more before returning to the plantation. Then he is arrested. Before death, Caesar is given a pipe to smoke. The executioner cuts off parts of his body one by one, starting with his fingers and then cutting off his ears, nose, and arms. The crowd is violent. Caesar continues to smoke until his second erm is cut off. Then he drops dead. The executioners cut Caesar’s body into pieces and sent the body parts to other plantations in Suriname. Colonel Martin is sent a quarter but refuses to accept it, saying he has no respect for the plantation’s brutal government. Thus, Oroonoko remains undefeated

Conclusion: Oroonoko’s courage, battle skills, and strong moral code resemble those of a hero in epic literary traditions. His education, wit, and love for his wife resemble the traits of a medieval literary hero.

Azizul Haque
Azizul Haque
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