Oroonoko the Savior and Dismemberment in Aphra Behn’s
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Oroonoko was written by Aphra Behn during a time when there was a glorious revolution in which catholic King James II was removed from power. The writer being a catholic royalist and a supporter of King James II (KJ II) perceived this as a divine ruler being taken away from his position. From this experience she therefore, wrote a novel whose main character (Oroonoko) has been depicted to resemble KJ II; she describes him as a delightful ruler. Towards the end of the script Onoonoko’s dismemberment has been shown to have similarities with Jesus’ crucifixion which resembles how KJ II kicked out of his throne. At this point both (Oroonoko and Jesus Christ) represent the purity that God requires from humans; since it’s probable that oroonoko died a pure man. His, like Jesus’ deaths was as a result of men’s trickery and deceit.
The relation between Oroonoko and Jesus Christ
Relating some conversation between Oroonoko and his executioners and comparing them to those of Jesus during his crucifixion we get it clear that that the two instances are similar. When Oroonoko was arrested and the time to be killed was near, he asked his executors, “my friends am I to die or to be whipped?” but they did not take this lightly since they thought he would flee. To the contrary he did bless them and assured them that he was really ready for the suffering, and he would stay fixed like a rock (Behn 72). Like Jesus who asked God to forgive his executioner for they did not know what they were doing, he blesses those who had fixed him and prepared to kill him. Moreover, even having the knowledge of what would befall him, Oroonoko like Jesus who refused to save his life from his mockers and like a sheep, he followed their instruction, assured the executioner to stand still like a rock and as Jesus did by willing being crucified even after they challenged him to save himself as he did earlier.
Jesus’ death was to save the lives of his people who by then were under the roman government, likewise Oroonoko can be describe as the slaves leader who dies for his fellows and thus referred to as their king (King James Bible, Luke 23:34). Being from the Indian accent where warriors try to outshine each other, to be the head general. This was done through disfiguring oneself to an extreme degree, they would do this willingly and the fastest would surpass the rest and thus declared the leader. Through the process of dismemberment which he willingly went through, he acquires a Christ like status. He becomes the prevailing Indian warrior and wins the honor for fighting for his people (Behn 56).
Though the death was painful and both were accredited to be kings of their people, it is noted that most members of these societies did not see the importance of the death, even after Jesus’ death the Jews remained under the Roman government. Likewise, the Indian slaves were not saved by Oroonoko’s dismemberment and thus had no reason to celebrate. To the contrary the imagery used all through the context is meant to show the importance of life and roles played by leaders to salvage their colleagues no matter what the course (Hühn 50)
The writer shows her bitterness with the system of government and religious leaders who have been down looking issues of great importance. She uses symbolism to show how leaders should be willing to take care of their people. From this novel it is evident that the government has been in the front line to fix people who they feel that are a threat their governance. Oroonoko was out to fight for the freedom of his people who were being overworked and lived in wanting condition. By so doing he was to be dismembered in the hands of the present days’ government so as to scare the slaves who had a similar opinion. Death has been used symbolized the end of pure man who could save mankind and have a kind heart to those who were in the bondage of slavery. It shows that it takes ones’ self denial to take charge and stand on his or her ground and fight for the weak. Like most of the character in the novel did by giving their lives since they considered death as a better option than suffering in pain and distress. With many giving up their lives, am of the opinion that, only one took the glory. He (Oroonoko) presented himself to his executers; though he had the power to free he opted to give his life and thus died courageously.
Behn, Aphra. “Oroonoko.” Oroonoko and Other Writings. Ed. Frank Ellis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. 3-73. Print.
Hühn, Peter. “3 Aphra Behn: Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave: A True History (1688).” Eventfulness in British Fiction 18 (2010): 31. The Bible: King James Version. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. NetLibrary. Web. 03 February 2010.