World Literature II
July 11, 2012
Oroonoko & Christanity Formal Paper
Oroonoko, The Royal Slave is a unique story for it’s time in part due to the fact that it is told from a woman’s point of view. It is unusual to imagine women of her time to have traveled as far as the author Aphra Behn it seems must have traveled in order to describe Africa. Oroonoko’s story is one of a tragic hero destroyed by the dishonesty and deceit of others. In Oroonoko Behn throughout the story implies that religion, focusing the religion of Christianity, corrupts men.
Religion is explored not in terms of rites and rituals, but rather from the perspective of the effect that one’s belief system has on behavior. Most of the white men in the story are manipulative and dishonest with Oroonoko. They swear to their God that they will do what they promise and then do not keep their promise. The first description that Oroonoko receives of Christianity is from the captain who tricks him and sells him into slavery. The captain explains that he has sworn in the “name of a great god, which if he should violate, he would expect eternal torment in the world to come”. Oroonoko goes onto talk about he swears on his honor which if he should violate would be the greatest shame to him and to his people.
Throughout the story we see Oroonoko is a man of his word and places the greatest value in maintaining honor and dignity which are more valuable to him than life itself. More than once he makes decisions based upon his belief that when a man says he will do something, he will do it or die trying. When he attempts to lead his fellow slaves to freedom, he is betrayed by their ready willingness to forfeit the battle and return to captivity. He urged them to flee with descriptions of how it was better to die with dignity than to live as a slave, and when they said they would join him, he sure believed they would...