Oronooko: The Age Of Reason Analysis

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The Enlightenment is sometimes referred to as the Age of Reason. It was the crossroads of understanding and that occurred all through Western Europe and the Americas. Scientific reasoning, rationalism, individualism, and perception were all defining traits of this period with individuals beginning to question long standing principles. During this time, texts like Oronooko, by Aphra Behn, became popular. This text, with its plot set in a European slave colony, took on issues of class and identity to defend the slave trade using logic and reasoning. This text has a fictionalized view of how European colonies, and in effect European countries, ran and to the extent of the damage caused. The narrator of the story, the young English woman, who …show more content…
Because of Oroonoko’s status as a prince and a member of a ruling class, he was treated at a higher standard than the other prisoners. For example, he did not have the manual labor jobs of the other slaves. “He endured no more of the slave but the name, and remained some days in the house, receiving all visits that were made him, without stirring towards that part of the plantation where the Negroes were” (1032). Due to his nobility, Oroonoko, renamed Ceaser , was held above the rest of the slaves who were kept in chains and forced to do the undesirable …show more content…
This is because Behn not only portrayed Europe as good business partners and depicted the natives as welcoming and helpful, even going to far as to present gifts. This text justified slavery as a legitimate practice as long as the slave was bought legally or captured as a prisoner in battle or those who “were not brave and noble enough to defend their people” (1012). To many in Europe, hierarchy was an important element of the slave trade and therefore did not question the institution of slavery. This supports European’s view of the slave trade. The English were not as firmly entrenched in the slave trade as other nations, and did not believe that black nations are born to be slaves. The Africans were not automatically written as inferior, rather, only after they were captured or taken in battle were they labeled as inferior. In addition, Euopeans did not believe all Africans were inferior as exemplified by the portrayal of Oroonoko. His character is strongly shaped by European standards and is written to be an intellectual as only those of the ruling class educated in European courts are, to the amazement of the narrator, who found it “amazing to imagine where it was he learned so much humanity” (1011). The narrator continues to describe more noble traits, saying Oroonoko possessed “that real greatness of soul, those refined notions of true honour,

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