Comparative Essay Oroonoko

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In Aphra Behn's short novel Oroonoko, she tells the tragic love story about the grandson of an African king who falls in love with a girl named Imoinda, the daughter of the king's top general. Unfortunately, the king also falls in love with Imoinda who demands that she becomes his wife. Imoinda, who shares her feelings with Oroonoko spends time with him instead of the king, the king eventually discovers their love. Enraged, the king sells Imoinda as a slave while Oroonoko is taken by a brutal slave captain. Imoinda and Oroonoko are reunited in Surinam where they realize they will only be able to have free love for one another in the next life. Oroonoko kills Imoinda and then is killed by way of public dismemberment.

The story of Oroonoko had many themes common with the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Even though these two stories were written many years apart, they share the same classical structure of chivalry and romance. The tale of Sir Gawain tells of a knight in Arthurs kingdom who is given a quest to complete. Since the chivalric code of that time was to perform duties to ones King, Lady, and God, Gawain went through many obstacles and distractions to complete his journey for his king. Gawain traveled through forests, combated beasts, stayed at magical kingdoms, and was almost seduced by beautiful women, but because of his devotion to the chivalric code and his king, he defied all these distractions to complete his quests.

Even though there are no beasts or magical kingdoms in the story of Oroonoko there are many common themes. Once Oroonoko and Imoinda meet and fall in love, Oroonoko establishes his own chivalric code towards her because he knows he will do anything to be with her. He battles different obstacles such as brutal slave owners, military forces, and Byam; He organizes slave revolts and gets punished by whipping. By completing these acts, Oroonoko is by himself on a quest for his lady, which captures the classical aspect of the...
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