Slavery In Thomas More's Utopia And Aphra Behn

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Slavery is a common theme throughout many texts, with slaves being presented to the reader in a variety of ways. Both Thomas More in his Utopia and Aphra Behn in her Oroonoko include slavery as an ongoing theme, but address it differently. More seems to have a different definition for slavery, while Behn presents slavery as we know it but challenges the legitimacy and morals of it. While slavery is seen as a form of justice in Utopia in order to keep society together, it is a seen an unjust practice in Oronooko. This difference becomes evident in the structure of the two texts as more sympathy is put on Oronooko’s slavery, while Utopia features no personal accounts of their slaves. One must ask how More presents slavery in his text, and the answer is objectively. There are no personal accounts of a slaven in Utopia and there seems to be a justified reason for slavery. That reason is to establish a correctional system. More states …show more content…
The text reads “The Utopians don’t regard prisoners of war as slaves...neither do they enslave the children of slaves, or those they take out of slavery in other lands” (More 91). We understand slavery as a legally owning someone, usually non-consensual and labor related. A common theme in slavery is that the practice is hereditary, meaning if your parents are slaves, you are born into the system. Another aspect of our understanding of slavery is the abduction of citizens from foreign lands and enslaving the captives. More’s Utopia rejects both of these ideas, which are further explored and tested in how Behn’s Oroonoko through her definition and handling of slavery. Considering the only means of becoming a slave include either breaking the law or the individual him/herself choosing slavery over another seemingly worse fate (death or poverty), More is redefining slavery as a just practice put in place to better not only society, but the

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