Pro or Anti-Slavery in Oroonoko

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Upon first reading Aphra Behn's work Oroonoko, one might get the impression that this is an early example of antislavery literature that became so popular during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the short biography of Behn from the Norton Anthology of British Literature, we learn that Behn's story had a great impact on those who fought against the slave- trade. Although the horrors of the slave trade are clearly brought forth, I do not feel Behn was using these images towards the antislavery cause. I think it is more likely that the images were merely devices used in her travel narrative of Oroonoko. To see any negative view of the slave-trade, the reader must turn to the perspective of Oroonoko. Through him the reader sees how horrible the treatment of slaves is and how inhuman the slave-trade is. It might escape me, but I do not recall any moment in the story where the narrator takes its upon herself to discuss the slave trade. It seems that in that way that she is disconnecting herself from any responsibility. One could immediately say that this is because of her position at the time. Behn, being a woman, faced many prejudices from male writers and critics, although she was praised by some. Yet the anthology introduction states that she openly signed her name and talked back to critics. If this is true why would she be afraid to take a more open stance towards the question of slavery. Why does the antislavery perspective have to come from a slave, someone who is obviously going to be antislavery and not that of someone with a higher rank in society whose feelings toward the issue would be more considered. It is funny that even though the narrator is considered to be a member of the middle class in the colony, she separates herself from it when it comes to slavery. Because of her rank class in the plantation setting, it seems likely she would
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