Oroonoko By Aphra Behn: A Prominent Example Of The Noble Savage

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Aphra Behn published her book “Oroonoko” in 1688.In the book, the author has casted herself as a participant narrator, who is a narrator that is a part of the story. The author starts off by generally describing the colonized place in west Indies called Surinam and Coramantien where the Africans were captured and forced to change identity / names and work on sugar plantations owned by Europeans. Behn implies the concept of “Noble Savage” in Oroonoko’s Character in the story while she is describing the natives.

According to Aphra Behn’s descriptions, these noble savages are those people who are intelligent, innocent and without a sin. Oroonoko is a man with courage and integrity, someone who shows his constant noble character but also savageness throughout the story. His character trait of nobility is portrayed when he is able to forgive others with ease instead of rebelling. Oroonoko has a noble heart and gentle virtues.

When Oroonoko was captured by the captain and then after that sold as slave, instead of fighting for his life, he remained as noble as ever and rather quoted “Farewell, Sir! It is worth my suffering to gain so true a knowledge both of you and of your gods by whom you swear” (Behn, p.41). So in this context, Oroonoko tries to deliver that he has learned enough from the captain and his religion. If he dares to lie and betray a friendship, then what is left for Oroonoko to really imagine from the religion he worships? Despite all these, Oroonoko does not feel the need for revenge but rather a thought of ease rises inside him realizing the true colors of the captain who he thought was a good friend to him.

The other incident in the plot which adds to the concept of ‘Novel Savage’ is when Oroonoko reaches the planation owned by Trefry, who not only admires Oroonoko’s, but also becomes a very close friend to Oroonoko. Behn says “Trefry soon found he was yet something greater than he confessed” (Behn, p.42). This statement made by Behn conveys how Trefry realized that Oroonoko was very different from all the other slaves who worked under him and also he did not deserve to be treated like a slave.

The place Surinam, as described by Behn in the story is a peaceful place with innocent people set against the civilization with Europeans. The natives are portrayed as having basic survival skills in terms of creative artistries such as making colorful beads, axes and knives unlike the advanced technological societies. Oroonoko in terms of the Europeans physiognomy is handsome when it comes to his face structure, unlike the Africans and his exceptional level of education and manners taught by French tutor makes him stand out in the crowd of slaves.

Therefore, Oroonoko is a perfect example of a noble savage. He successfully portrays the nobility through his personality and is consistent of his virtuous actions and decisions which eventually adds to his savageness. Although he is considered noble due to his lineage, personality and qualities, he can never change the fact that he is a black and the place where he came from. This contributes to his weakness and thus he kills Imoinda because he did not want his child to be born into slavery. This was his only choice of solution to his problem before he regained his nobility and courageous behavior by facing death without fear.

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