Voltaire and Aphra Behn: Comparison and Contrast of Candide and Oroonoko
In the story’s of Aphra Behn’s, “Oroonoko”, and in Voltaire’s, “Candide” there are comparisons but along with those comparisons, there are some contrasts. The topics that will be discussed are the portrayal of colonialism and slavery within these two stories. Both authors have provided evidence within these stories about the subjects. These authors saw the importance of discussing both portrayal of colonialism and slavery, with both even having the experience of their characters within these stories. After these experiences, they put the stories into their own words and made sure that people noticed what went on within these stories. Although there may be comparisons of the two stories of Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko”, and of Voltaire’s Candide, there will also be contrasts of the portrayal of colonialism and slavery within these two stories.
First off, the comparisons of the two stories will be discussed within the lines of the portrayal of colonialism and slavery within Oroonoko and Candide. Within both of these stories the portrayal of colonialism is shown as both entering in the world of slavery and how this worked out for them within the community. In Oroonoko it was quoted that, “ So that the Captain, who had well laid his Design before, gave the Word, and seiz’d on all his guests; they clapping great Irons suddenly on the Prince, when he was leap’d down n the Hold, to view that part of Vessel; and locking him down, secur’d him” (Behn). Oroonoko having trust in the captain, and he ended up tricking him into becoming a slave and later selling him into a colony full of slaves in Surinam. In Candide when the old woman was younger, she had survived from a massacre from the pirates but later was found by a man who told her he would take her back home, but he had tricked her and ended up selling her back into slavery. It was quoted in Candide that, “I thanked him with tears of gratitude, and instead of returning me to Italy, he took me to Algiers and sold me dey of that country” (Voltaire).
These characters are both similar in the ways of both being royalty. Oroonoko was the prince of African descent, and the old woman when she way younger was the daughter of Pope Urban X and the princess of Palestrina. It was quoted in “Candide” that “I am in fact the daughter of Pope Urban the Tenth and the Princess of Palestrina” (Voltaire). The way of the colonialism was very similar because both were loved within their communities but once sold into slavery they were treated very differently and no one cared who they were. It was also similar because there were wars going on in each of the novels, and the conditions of soldiers in each novel were harsh. Many stories might not even involve any type of royalty seen to be treated this way. The authors wanted to make sure that their readers know such things have went on in the past. These stories have been great examples of comparisons and contrasts and gives us a detailed image of how many were treated back then.
While there may be great comparisons of these two stories there are also contrasts that come along with them. One of the main differences noticed is that while they both faced the hardships of slavery and the way the leaders had treated them, Oroonoko didn’t want to live this way anymore and decided to take his wife, unborn child’s life, and his own. As quoted in Oroonoko, “First cutting her throat and severing her yet smiling face from that delicate body, pregnant as it was the fruits of tenderest love” (Behn). The old woman had decided that these hardships were not worth taking her own life for, “A hundred times I wanted to kill myself but I loved my self-more” (Voltaire), that she quoted in Candide. She even lost a buttock over it. Oroonoko had only been to two different places while in slavery while the old woman was sold to multiple places. The comparisons have also brought lots of different ways the author may have gone through these experiences but thought they were very important to show. The way the colonialism was different was because we were hearing of more soldiers evading in the novel of Candide then we did of Oroonoko.
One of the main true comparisons we have seen within the novel is when the old woman had decided not to give up without a fight. It was understandable that Oroonoko did not want to live that way anymore and wanted to provide a better life for his family, but he gave up. Anyone within the world of slavery wants a better life and not only for themselves, but also for whoever else may be in their family or the colony. The old woman knew a better life was ahead of her and decided to never give up and to show people that in the end it doesn’t matter who has it worse in the end as long as you know that you’re going to be able to make it through it. Oroonoko did put up a good fight until the end, but failed to make it out with the outcome that he had wanted. Both have proved to be strong leaders for their people, but the old woman proved to everyone that no matter what the situation may be, there will always be a way out just don’t lose the fight within you.
The colonialism within these novels had its comparisons and contrasts. Within both the novels there was a war going on in each. The soldiers on both sides were very harsh, and also along with the colonies that they went into. Oroonoko was really only shipped to one place while the old woman as shipped out into multiple, although all conditions they faced were harsh. The king was very harsh to his grandson Oroonoko, although the old woman had a fair life, that was ripped away from her in the end. The conditions Oroonoko faced was with white settlers that did not treat the slaves well at all, while the old woman had to deal with pirates, and then sold off to multiple places also never being treated well. Whether there may be many contrasts or many comparisons the most important thing is to take the message that is given from both of these authors. The stories Oroonoko and Candide both are showing the experiences of what both authors have either gone through or have witnessed themselves. We can all get a sense of all the terrible things that have gone on in the past from slavery and how we can move forward from them. Knowing these comparisons and contrasts are a very important way to know and learn from the ways we dare to not go back to. Both Voltaire and Aphra Behn have been through these tragedies or have at least witnessed them to show others how this has had a huge effect and how the world can keep growing and to work together to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
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