Oroonoko

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Ethical Issues in Oroonoko: Slavery For years, man has illustrated his willingness to perform injustices to those weaker than he. From the bully in the schoolyard, to the king and his court, it seems that man has a desire to control and dominate others. Oroonoko, by Aphra Behn, illustrates that slavery is unethical, humiliating, demoralizing, and worse than death. Oroonoko is a powerful story about the tribulations of a gallant prince named Oroonoko. Throughout the novel, he is shown to be a brave prince and a friend to many. He is given command over an army and shows his military and strategical prowess by winning his battles and conquering his enemies. In the beginning of the novel, the prince presents Imoinda, the daughter of his foster father, with a gift of slaves that had been captured in his victorious battles. For Oroonoko, slavery was accepted and part of his daily life. However, in the novel, Behn presents slavery as a controversial and central issue towards the downfall of Oroonoko. Is it ethical to enslave another human and own them like a piece of property? What does the novel say about an issue such as slavery? The book, in fact, condemns this type of horrific behavior. She illustrates this issue by showing that slavery is demoralizing and humiliating to the people who are involuntary subjected to this kind of torment. In the beginning of the story, Behn describes the native people of Surinam, a colony in the West Indies, as beautiful, respectable, and friendly. Behn says, "for those we live with in perfect amity, without daring to command 'em; but, on the contrary, caress 'em with all the brotherly and friendly affection in the world." The natives are very useful to immigrants who came from other areas of the world into Surinam. Behn thought of them as being helpful because she could learn their culture and their everyday style of life. Behn finds it, "Necessary to caress 'em as friends, and not to treat 'em as slaves." Here, Behn says that treating the people of Surinam as slaves is improper and immoral. She says that friends should not be enslaved because they are helpful and caring. Through this effect, Behn considers slavery as an unethical issue. In the novel, Behn displays slavery as an issue that is associated with misery and torment. This occurs when the prince encounters the English captain who deceitfully places Oroonoko and others in captivity. Oroonoko is portrayed in a state of suffering when he is enslaved, "We were no sooner arrived but we went up to the plantation to see Caesar; whom we found in a very miserable and unexpressable condition; and I have a thousand times admired how he lived in so much tormenting pain protesting our innocency of the fact, and our abhorrence of such cruelties." While Oroonoko is at the plantation, his attitude is different from when he was the commander of the army. He is miserable, sad, and in a position with less power than he had before. In conjunction with the misery that is involved with slavery, the actions that coincide with a slave such as whippings are also condemned in the novel, "No, I would not kill myself, even after a whipping, but will be content to live with that infamy, and be pointed at by every grinning slave." Behn depicts a slave as someone one who is mentally and physically humiliated. In general, public humiliation is and torment is an unethical issue and Behn's portrayal of misery, humility, and torment proves that slavery is immoral Oroonoko. In Oroonoko, Behn creates a mindset that favors death over slavery. One situation in the novel where slavery is condemned is when the king threatens to send Imoinda off to another country to be sold as slaves. "He ought to have had so much value and consideration for a maid of her quality as to hav

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