Behn is very much against colonialism and exposes the ills and evils of colonialism. She has thrown a stream light on the horrors of slavery. She has portrayed the natives as helpful and open-hearted. But the white colonists are depicted as greedy, brutal, and corrupt. On the one side, there is Trefry who is friendly towards Oroonoko and on the other side, Byam is deceitful and never does what he promises. They belong to the opposite poles. Byam pretends friendship with Oroonoko and promises him freedom. Treachery is deep-seated in his character. The whites and the natives are wide apart.
The whites know how to serve their purpose and once their purpose is served they forget what they promise. Byam is greedy and hypocritical, Banister is really savage and his barbarism surpasses all limits. When Banister captures Oroonoko and tells him honestly that he will die like a dog. The African Prince replies gratefully that at last, he has heart a Whiteman tell the truth.
Behn is sympathetic towards the slave but she runs away at the first sign of trouble. She also appears to be two-faced. This pattern is quite common among the British colonist. The slaves and the natives are inhumanly treated and denied the amenities of life. The whites try to maintain peace because they are outnumbered by the natives and the slaves. This anti-colonial attitude is amply exposed in the novel Oroonoko.
Oroonoko – an Aristocrat
Behn has portrayed Oroonoko as an aristocrat. He had got beautiful physic and had been endowed with nobler qualities of a human being. Oroonoko possessed the melancholy and depression, very much characteristic of the aristocratic people of those days. It was something like a disease in them. This class of people did not have any reason for being melancholic. It is funny that in this era a man with tears was taken to be highly refined and admirable. They were highly sensitive and intelligent. The young African Prince has been cast into depression when he came to know Imoinda’s fate. The Prince was well-built and had the courage to face all the odds of life.
He could deliver fiery speeches to rouse the natives to revolt against the whites. His love for Imoinda was sincere and could never be called in question. He is not at all a pacifist. He could fight valorously. He was a great general, brave and bold, and belonged to the royal family of Africa. He could not avoid this temperament of melancholy and the spirit of depression captured his time and again. He could not bear his separation from beautiful Imoinda. In this way, Behn infused the aristocratic spirit of melancholy in Oroonoko.