ENGLISH 211 APHRA BEHN QUESTONS
Assigned: Aphra Behn. Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave (2313-58).
Narrator Describes Surinam (Guiana) in South America (2313-16)
1. What truth-status does the narrator claim for her story at the outset? What expectations might such a claim generate regarding the manner and content of the tale that is about to unfold?
2. How does the narrator describe the natives of Surinam -- what are their qualities, according to her? How do the European settlers treat them, and why?
Oroonoko's African Homeland, Coramantien (2316-31)
3. On 2316-18, how does the narrator describe the physical and intellectual character of Oroonoko? What distinguishes him from the ordinary inhabitants of Coramantien?
4. On 2318-22, how does Oroonoko meet Imoinda, and what causes the quarrel that arises between Oroonoko and Coramantien's elderly king? What conflicted feelings does the king himself reveal about this quarrel?
5. On 2322-28, what role do Onahal (the king's former mistress) and Aboan (a friend of Oroonoko) play as the quarrel between Oroonoko and the king develops? What "mistake" does Oroonoko make that brings matters to a head, and how does the king attempt to smooth matters over after this incident?
6. On 2328-2331, what heroic qualities does Oroonoko display in his conduct of the war against Jamoan?
Oroonoko's Enslavement, Sea Voyage to Surinam (2331-34)
7. On 2331-32, what prior dealings has Oroonoko had with the English captain who arrives soon after he returns to the court? What does the captain seem to think of his African "friend"? How does this captain manage to enslave him, and in what sense does Oroonoko make this task easy to accomplish?
8. On 2332-34, how does the English captain handle the difficulty that arises when first the Prince and then the other Africans on his ship refuse to eat? How does he induce Oroonoko to assist him in defusing the crisis? What might a reader learn about Oroonoko and his European captor from this episode?
9. On 2334, how does Oroonoko bear himself when he learns that the captain has betrayed him yet again? How does he view the captain's supposed religious convictions by this point?
Oroonoko's Captivity as "Caesar" in Surinam (2334-47)
10. On 2335-37, what happens to Oroonoko soon after he lands on Surinam's soil? How is he treated by the man who buys him (Trefry) and by his fellow Africans? How does he respond to this treatment?
11. On 2337-39, under what circumstances does Oroonoko meet Imoinda in Surinam? What happens between them, and what complication soon sets in with regard to Oroonoko's current situation as an enslaved man who nonetheless commands uncommon regard from his fellows and his captors?
12. On 2339-40, what relationship does the narrator apparently have with Oroonoko? What role does she play in mediating between the English colonists and Oroonoko?
13. On 2341-47, what does the narrator reveal about her own history, and what personal courage does she display in the company of Oroonoko during his hunting adventures?
Oroonoko's Rebellion in Surinam (2347-58)
14. On 2347-51, what leads Oroonoko to decide that the time has come to free himself from slavery? What plan does he determine upon to accomplish this?
15. On 2351-53, how does Governor Byam deal with the rebellion, and how does he manage to take Oroonoko prisoner? What does he do to Oroonoko afterwards? Where is the narrator during the rebellion, and what does she do when she returns?
16. On 2353-57, what is Oroonoko's plan now that he has been recaptured? Why does he find it necessary to kill Imoinda, and what effect does this dreadful act have upon him afterwards?
17. On 2357-58, in what manner does the Governor have Oroonoko executed? How does Oroonoko bear up under this treatment, and what concluding thoughts does the narrator offer concerning the Prince's life and death?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen and Carol T. Christ. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th. edition. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C. Paperback. Norton: 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0393913002.