Oroonoko English Summary

Key information of Oroonoko

  • Writer: Aphra Behn (1640-89)
  • Full Title: Oroonoko: or The Royal Slave
  • Time of Composition: 1680s
  • Published Date: 1688
  • Publisher: Thomas Southern 
  • Point of View: Mix of First person and third person
  • Genre: Prose Fiction
  • Number of Sections: Four Sections
  • Place Setting: 

i) Coramantien (West Coastof Aftica Present day and persent-day Ghana)

ii) Parham Plantation in Surinam (Northern Coast of South America and changed spelling is Suriname)

  • Time Setting: 1640s

Characters of Oroonoko

Aboan : True friend of Oroonoko in Coramantien, who helps him enter the otan to visit Imoinda.

Bannister: Elected by Byam to round up, whip, and finally kill Oroonoko to dissuade the other slaves from revolting.

Byam: The historical deputy-governor of Surinam who betrays Oroonoko by having him whipped and put to death.

Clemene: The slave name of  Imoinda. 

Caesar: The slave name of  Oroonoko.

Imoinda: The African beauty whom Oroonoko loves.

Jamoan: African warrior defeated by Oroonoko.

Narrator: A young English woman, based on the author Aphra Behn, who visits Surinam and befriends Oroonoko.

Onahal: The senior wife of the king..

Oroonoko: The African prince and hero of the Novel.

Trefry: The overseer of Parham Plantation.

Tuscan: The Surinam slave who helps Oroonoko organize the slave revolt but ultimately betrays him.

Willoughy: The lord governor of Surinam, who owns Perham plantation and never arrives to free Oroonoko.

Themes of Oroonoko

  • Racism
  • Betrayal
  • Love and Obedience
  • Freedom and Slavery
  • Honor

Oroonoko English Summary

Source of Plot:

In 1663, Aphra Behn visited the British colony of Chutnam. There she met an African slave named Oroonuko. Aphra Behn heard from Oroonoko the story of the bitterness of his life and wrote this novel based on reality. In this novel, she plays the role of the unnamed narrator.

Oroonoko and Imoinda’s love affair begins

This Nobel begins in Coramantien. The heir to all the estates of the old King of Coramantien is his only grandson, Oroonoko. Oroonoko is a smart, handsome and brave warrior. At present Orunouko is the General of Coramantien. The previous general died defending Oroonoko on the battlefield. And after his death, Oroonoko was promoted to general. After becoming a general, Oroonuko’s journey to the royal court began. At the royal court, Oroonuko was met by the former general’s daughter, Imoinder. Imoinda and Oroonoko fall in love with each other the moment they first meet. And they decide to get married. At that time it was common practice that a man could marry more than one woman. But Oroonoko promises Imoinda that he will not take a second wife and that he will not leave her even in old age. Then they got married secretly.

Betrayal of the King of Coramantien

Oroonoko’s grandfather, who is now the Coramantien king, betrays them. When the king learns that Oroonoko and Imoinda are married, he is furious and locks Imoinda in the palace. The king wants to marry Imoinda so the king sends Imoinda to Royalville. King blackmails Imoinda in various ways. Tells Imoinda that if she doesn’t forget Oroonoko, he will kill Oroonuko. Finally, Imoinda agreed to the king’s proposal, thinking that Oroonoko would not be harmed.

Many days passed like this. The king thinks that Imoinda and Oroonoko have completely forgotten each other. One day the king called Oroonoko and his friend Aboyan to the palace. An interesting point here is that another wife of the king, Onahal, had an illicit affair with Aboyan. However, Oroonoko met Imoinda at the palace with the help of Onahal and Aboyan. But unfortunately, the king captured Oroonoko and Imoinda and sold Imoinda as a slave. The king informs Oroonoko that Imoinda has been killed. Oroonoko was devastated after hearing about Imoinda’s murder.

The arrival of English ships

Meanwhile, an English ship arrives at Coramantien to buy prisoners of war as slaves. Oroonoko developed a friendly relationship with the English ship’s captain. Oroonoko trusts the captain of the English ship. Meanwhile, the king hatches a sinister plot against Oroonoko. The king secretly sold Oroonoko as a slave to an English ship’s captain. The captain of the English ship invited Oroonoko to his ship for a dinner party. As Orunouko was a general, Orunouko went to dinner at the invitation of the captain of the English ship with 100 soldiers.

When Oroonoko boarded an English ship with 100 friends, the ship’s captain betrayed him and imprisoned them all as slaves. While Oroonoko and his friends were not eating anything on the ship, the captain of the ship promised that they would be released soon. But when the ship reached Surinam none of them were freed but sold to individual slave owners. Oroonoko was sold to Trefry, overseer of Perham Plantation. Oroonoko develops a friendly relationship with Trefry. Trefry promises Oroonoko by talking to the owner of the plantation (Willoughy) that Oroonoko will be freed very soon.

Oroonoko tells the story of his life to the narrator

The narrator suddenly meets Oroonuko one day in Khinname. Oroonoko tells her the story of his bitter experiences in life. After listening to the story, the narrator and Trefri assure Oroonoko that Oroonoko will be freed upon the return of the owner of Param Plantation. An interesting point here is that since Oroonoko was a royal family member, but Oroonoko did not have to do much work. He travelled with Trefry and observed everything on the plantation.

Oroonoko’s meeting with Imoinda

One day Oroonoko and Trefry are walking around. Oroonoko couldn’t believe his eyes. He sees Imoinda. Oroonoko has long believed that Imoinda was killed. But now Imoinda is before his eyes. Oroonoko couldn’t believe his eyes at all. Oroonoko’s eyes filled with joy as soon as he saw Imoinda. He couldn’t control himself anymore. He ran and hugged Imoinda. Both of them had tears of joy in their eyes. Since Oroonuko has a friendly relationship with Trefry, Trefry arranges for Imoinda and Oroonoko to live together. However, within a short period of time, Imoinda became a mother, that is, Oroonoko’s child was born in Imoinda’s womb.

Rebellion against slavery in Oroonoko

When Oroonoko realizes his wife Imoinda is pregnant, Oroonoko repeatedly tells Trefry to free them. But who listens to whom? Trefry didn’t seem to be listening. Oroonoko fully understands that it is impossible for them to get free from this heinous slavery system. He and his wife will never escape this life of slavery.

Oroonoko thought that their newborn child would also become a slave according to the rules. A rule of slavery was that the child of a slave would be a slave. However, Oroonoko could not accept these things at all. Oroonoko wanted to eliminate this heinous custom. He wanted to abolish slavery forever. Because of this Oroonoko wanted him to rebel. Rebellion will destroy the slave system forever. Oroonoko revolted and Oroonoko was helped by another slave named Tuscan to rebel. Oroonoko formed a group of several slaves and declared war against the slave owners, the white people.

A war between slave owners and slaves

Because of Oroonoko’s declaration of war, the white people, the slave owners, became very angry with Oroonoko, and the white people came with guns to destroy them. The white people fired on the slaves and killed many of them. Seeing this, Tuskan changed his party and joined the slave owner. All the slaves who were in Orunouko’s party kept begging Oroonoko to surrender to the slave owners and stop this terrible war.

Byam, the deputy governor of Parham Plantation, learns that a slave named Oroonoko is playing the biggest role behind the rebellion. He then asked Oroonoko to surrender and promised them that if he surrendered to them both he and his wife Imoinda would be released with honor and alive. He also promised to free them and return them to Africa with dignity.

Surrender of Orunouko and Betrayal of Byam

At everyone’s request, Oroonoko paid the slave owners and confessed her crime to them. When Oroonoko surrendered, Oroonoko and his friends were arrested and sent to the military. The military brutally tortures, tortures and beats Oroonoko and his friends. Here too Orunouko was deceived by Bayam.

Oroonoko’s plan to abolish slavery

After being tricked by Byam, Oroonoko hatches a plan to end the slave system at any cost and get revenge on Byam. Oroonoko thought that when he died at the hands of the slave owners, the slave owners would torture his wife Imoinda a lot, so Oroonoko planned to kill his wife Imoinda first, and then he would go to war.

Oroonoko shares the matter with his wife. Oroonoko tells Imoinda that if you want to end this most abominable system of slavery, you must first sacrifice your life because when I die, these cruel slave-slaves will torture and oppress you. Imoinda dedicated her life to abolishing the worst form of slavery. Oroonoko shot and killed his own wife Imoinda. But sadly, Oroonoko failed to take her revenge. The natives, the white people, captured Aranyaka and started torturing him again. They decided that Oroonoko would die like a dog.

Oroonoko’s death scene

The scene of Oroonoko’s death was very gruesome. Oroonoko tells them her last wish is to smoke tobacco before she dies. So they gave him a pipe of tobacco and Oroonoko continued to smoke that tobacco. Byam orders Bannister to kill Oroonoko. Bannister first cuts off Oroonoko’s penis and throws it into the fire. Then some cut off Oroonoko’s ears, some cut off his nose, and some cut off Oroonoko’s hands. But the interesting thing is that when Oroonoko’s organs were being cut off, Oroonoko was still smoking continuously i.e. smoking the tobacco pipe. Basically by this smoking the novelist denounced the slobbery system. However, this time Oroonoko’s whole body was cut up and his body flesh was cut into small pieces and his body flesh was sent to the house of the nobles of Suriname. However, eventually, a man named Colonel Martin received his body. And through this cruel death this noble ends.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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