Racism in Aphra Behns Oroonoko

Masters
Book Report/Review
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In her book Oroonoko, author Aphra Behn physically distinguishes her titular hero from his fellow countrymen in a way that subtly foreshadows and establishes the ambivalence toward racial differences that is to be felt throughout the story. Zook writes that "in many ways Oroonoko is more European than Africanhis physical featuresare European" (92)…

Introduction

Oroonoko's duality is a reflection of the duality at work of the author herself, who seems incapable of fully committing to making an African the hero of her tale without stripping him of many of his uniquely African attributes. Consider that Oroonoko is both a Prince and a slave; a slave trafficker and a slave himself; a savage warrior and an educated noble; as one man with two names. Not only is the protagonist of her story imbued with duality, but the telling of the tale itself is bifurcated by a constant ambivalence toward its own racist viewpoint.
Oroonoko is plainly African, but he also manages to be a representation of the European ideal of masculine beauty. That word needs to be examined more closely; he is a re-presentation. The concept of the Other is one in which man comes face to face with something different from himself. The Other is a threat and must be taken care of either through annihilation or assimilation. ...
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