Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko: The Royal Slave Summary & Analysis


 Oroonoko Summary

Oroonoko chronicles the story of the African prince Oroonoko and his beloved wife Imoinda, who are captured by the British and delivered to Surinam as slaves. the story is about primarily during this locale on the northern coast of South America during the 1640s, just before English surrendered the colony to the Dutch.

A young English woman, the nameless narrator, resides on Parham Plantation awaiting transportation back to England. She is that the daughter of the new deputy-governor, who unfortunately died during the family’s voyage to require up his new post. During her wait, she has the chance to satisfy and befriend prince Oroonoko and his lovely wife, Imoinda. Before introducing the first character, however, the narrator provides great detail about the colony and therefore the inhabitants, presenting first an inventory of multicolored birds, myriad insects, high-colored flora and exotic fauna, then an almost anthropological account of the natives with whom British trade and who seem to the narrator to be as innocent as Adam and Eve in “the Delaware of innocence, before man knew the way to sin.” British, she insists, live happily with the natives. due to their vast numbers, the colonists are unable to enslave them then must look elsewhere for slaves to figure on the sugar plantations–that is, they appear to Africa.

After her overview of Surinam, the narrator switches the setting to Coramantien (today Ghana) on the West Coast of Africa, where the protagonist Oroonoko is close to meet Imoinda, the daughter of the overall who has just died saving Oroonoko’s life. The king of Coramantien, who is that the 100-year-old grandfather of Oroonoko, has also fallen crazy with the young and delightful girl and has beaten Oroonoko to the punch by sending her the royal veil, a present Imoinda cannot refuse, and which signifies that she is now the wife of the king. she is going to spend the remainder of her days locked within the ocean, or the royal seraglio, which only the king can visit. Oroonoko, however, breaks into the ocean with the assistance of his good friend Aboan, who keeps one among the king’s senior wives named Onahal occupied with lovemaking. The king catches him, and Oroonoko flees. Although Imoinda is sold into slavery, the king later informs Oroonoko that she has been honorably put to death.

Meanwhile, the British arrive in Coramantien to trade for the war captives whom Oroonoko sells as slaves. The captain invites the prince and his friends to board his vessel as his guest, on the other hand surprises them and takes them captive. Soon after he promises Oroonoko his freedom, when he and his friends refuse to eat, but he fails to stay this promise. Upon the ship’s arrival at Surinam, Oroonoko is sold to the mild-mannered and witty overseer of Parham Plantation who befriends him, Mr. Trefry. At now, Oroonoko meets the narrator. She and Trefry assure the prince that as soon because the lord-governor Willoughby arrives in Surinam he is going to be let loose.

Because of his high social station, superior education, and spectacular physical appearance, Oroonoko isn’t sent to figure. He resides far away from the opposite slaves within the plantation house. While walking with Trefry at some point, he sees Imoinda. The lovers fall happily into each other’s arms and everyone but instantly marry. Soon Imoinda becomes pregnant.

At now Oroonoko, who desperately desires that his child not change state a slave, becomes even more concerned about his enslaved status despite Trefry’s and therefore the narrator’s renewed promises that each one is going to be well when the governor arrives. They plan to divert him with hunting, fishing, and a visit to a native village. Oroonoko may be a champion hunter who kills two tigers singlehandedly additionally to managing to carry onto a fishing pole even when an electrical eel knocks him unconscious. Although the native village provides distraction (and another means for Behn to supply cultural information about the natives during this region), Oroonoko incites a slave revolt with the opposite plantation slaves. They escape on Sunday night when the whites are drunk, but they leave a trail that’s easy to follow because they need to burn the comb ahead of them. The plan is to settle a replacement community near the shore and find a ship on which to return to Africa. Meanwhile, the narrator flees to safety, but later she gets a firsthand account of the events.

Deputy-governor Byam negotiates with Oroonoko to surrender and promises him amnesty. another time he assures Oroonoko that he and his family are going to be freed and returned to Africa. Hardly surprising, however, Byam lies another time to Oroonoko and sees that he’s whipped brutally, with pepper poured into his wounds, as soon as he surrenders. The despondent Oroonoko realizes he now will never be free in which his child is going to be born in captivity. He informs Imoinda that he has decided to kill her honorably, take revenge on Byam, then kill himself. She thanks her husband for allowing her to die with dignity, and he cuts her throat and removes her face together with his knife. But Oroonoko becomes prostrated with grief and may never generate enough energy to travel after Byam. Sinking ever deeper into depression, he waits for eight days next to the body of his dead wife until the stench brings Byam’s men to the location, where they immediately set about killing him. Finally, Oroonoko stands stoically smoking his pipe while they cut off his nose, ears, and one leg. Then he falls dead, and that they quarter his body before removing it.Oroonoko

                                          Oroonoko Analysis 

Oroonoko is about within the 1600s, at a time when many countries, including Surinam, were under British colonial rule. Behn depicts how British imperialism, in tandem with the Atlantic slave traffic, fundamentally changed life in Africa and certain parts of South America. Brave, intelligent Oroonoko may be a victim of imperialism, which is depicted as an evil, corrupting force.
Aphra Behn depicts the natives of Surinam as innocent, good-natured people. She emphasizes the very fact that they frequently trade beads, bins, and needles to prove that the natives are creative, and she or he claims that the people of Surinam haven’t any words meaning lies or deception. By praising so-called primitive cultures, Behn criticizes colonial regimes, also as Western European culture.
Behn took the name Coromantien from a slave-trading station in Ghana. Though the country of Coromantien may be a fictional invention, it does substitute for several coastal African countries that were targeted by slave traders within the 1600s.



England. The setting of the novel’s present-time narration. In 1688 England was a nation in crisis. After issuing a series of unpopular laws and producing an heir to his Roman Catholic throne, King James II struggled to retain power. In December, he fled the country and was replaced by the Protestant prince William of Orange. Although many of us feared James, Behn remained fiercely loyal to him. Her novel, which chronicles the tragic destruction of a heroic prince, reflects the sorrow she felt during James’s political struggles.


Suriname. European colony on the northeastern coast of South America (now independent Suriname) to which the African prince Oroonoko is taken after he’s enslaved in Africa. Behn probably visited Surinam during the first 1660s. By the time she wrote Oroonoko, the colony had been ceded to the Dutch, an incontrovertible fact that would have underscored for her contemporary readers her themes of futility and loss.

Within the novel, Surinam isn’t only an exotic land crammed with unusual wildlife, but also an Edenic paradise. Behn describes the colony’s inhabitants, who live without shame or deception, as “so like our first Parents before the autumn .” They represent the “first State of Innocence before Man knew the way to sin.” In depicting Surinam as a prelapsarian world, Behn follows the satiric tradition of writers like Michel de Montaigne, who contrasted the primitive virtue of “savages” with the corruption of European society.

By the time Behn wrote Oroonoko, Surinam was not a completely primitive land. It had been colonized by the British and took part within the triangular trade of the seventeenth century that brought slaves from West Africa to the New World to assist produce the raw products sent to European markets. At an equivalent time that Surinam represents an unspoiled Eden, it also represents an abundance of natural resources. In contrast to several modern writers, Behn doesn’t overtly criticize the institutions of colonization and slavery themselves. English colonists in her novel appear entitled to both the wealth of the land and therefore the labor of their slaves. Only near the top of the novel, when the otherwise peaceful local people threaten to attack their colonizers, does Behn acknowledge the value of imperialism.

The colonists themselves, however, aren’t innocents within the novel. Although the slaves and lots of the settlers recognize Oroonoko’s inherent nobility, the colonial government refuses to revive his freedom and threatens to enslave his unborn child. during this way, Surinam resembles seventeenth-century England. Like Behn’s fictional Oroonoko, England’s King James II faced a nation that sought to deny both his nobility which of his son. the very fact that Behn gave Oroonoko an equivalent nickname that King James had—“Caesar”—suggests further that she used Surinam as a representation of her own country.