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Oroonoko Summary | Aphra Behn

Oroonoko Summary | Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn has written Oroonoko, where he discusses superiority of Europeans or natives, slavery, and anti-colonialism. In the following content, we are going to discuss Oroonoko summary.

Writer’s Intro:

Aphra Behn was a British playwright, poet, translator, and fiction writer from the Restoration era. She was born on December 14, 1640, and died on April 16, 1689.

Theme of Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Superiority of Europeans or Natives, Slavery, and Anticolonialism.


Character List of Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Imoinda: Imoinda is the beautiful African woman that Oroonoko likes. After Oroonoko tries to save her from his grandfather, the king’s otan, she is sold into slavery.

Clemene: Imoinda is given the slave name Clemene when she gets to Surinam.

Oroonoko: Oroonoko is the African prince that a British slave trader kidnaps and turns into a slave. He is taken to Surinam, where he leads a slave revolt and then dies.

Caesar: When Trefry got to Surinam, he gave Oroonoko the slave name Caesar. The name is a reference to Julius Caesar, who was a Roman emperor whose “friends killed” him.

Aboan: Aboan is Oroonoko’s true friend in Coramantien. He helps him get into the otan so he can visit Imoinda. He is in love with Onahal.

Onahal: Onahal is the king’s oldest wife. She helps Oroonoko meet his love, Imoinda, in the king’s private room, the otan. She is in love with Aboan.

Bannister: Bannister was chosen by Byam to find, beat, and then kill Oroonoko to stop the other slaves from rising up.

Byam: The historical deputy governor of Surinam betrays Oroonoko by having him whipped and killed.

Jamoan: Jamoan is an African warrior who lost to Oroonoko. He treats Oroonoko with a lot of respect and like a brother. He is like the boss Trefry, who also takes care of Oroonoko well.

Narrator: A young English woman who goes to Surinam and makes friends with Oroonoko. She is based on the author Aphra Behn.

Trefry: Trefry is the man in charge of the Parham Plantation. He makes friends with Oroonoko and tries to set him free and send him back to Africa.

Tuscan: Tuscan is a slave from Surinam who helps Oroonoko plan the slave revolt but then turns on him in the end.

Willoughy: Willoughy is the lord governor of Surinam. He owns the Perham plantation and never comes to free Oroonoko.


The Summary of “Oroonoko”

The first part of “Oroonoko” summary

The prince of Africa, Oroonoko, and his beloved wife, Imoinda, are kidnapped by the British and sold into slavery in Surinam. The majority of the action occurs along this stretch of northern South American coast in the 1640s, when the English were preparing to hand over the province to the Dutch.

Without revealing her identity, the narrator reveals that she is a young English woman waiting to be taken back to England from Parham Plantation. She is the new vice governor’s daughter, who lost her father on the way to his new position. After some time waiting, she befriends Prince Oroonoko and his stunning wife, Imoinda. 

However, the narrator provides a great deal of background information on the colony and its inhabitants before presenting the protagonist. The narrator begins by numbering the exotic creatures, unusual vegetation, and vividly colored birds that can be found in the colony.

The author then proceeds to provide a near-anthropological account of the colony’s inhabitants. She claims the indigenous and the British get along fine with each other. Colonists can’t turn them into slaves since there are too many of them. Instead, they import slaves from Africa to labor on the sugar cane farms.


The second part of the summary Oroonoko

After describing Surinam, the narrator shifts to the modern-day west African nation of Ghana (then known as Coramantien). Oroonoko is ready to meet Imoinda, the daughter of the commander who sacrificed himself to save the protagonist.

Oroonoko’s grandfather, the king of Coramantien, who is 100 years old, has also fallen in love with the young and beautiful girl. He also sent Imoinda the royal veil ahead of schedule, which Oroonoko would have been unable to refuse. Now the king has just married her and sent her to his otan.

Only the king will be able to see her in the otan, where she will spend the rest of her life. Oroonoko gets into the otan with the help of his good friend Aboan, who keeps one of the king’s older wives, Onahal, busy with lovemaking.

He is caught by the king, and Oroonoko runs away. Even though Imoinda is sold into slavery, the king later tells Oroonoko that she was killed in a good way.


The third part of the summary Oroonoko

While this is going on, the British come to Coramantien to trade for the war prisoners that Oroonoko sells as slaves.

The captain invites the prince and his friends to come aboard his ship as his guests, but then he surprises them and takes them prisoner. Soon after, he tells Oroonoko that he will be free if he and his friends don’t eat.

However, he doesn’t keep his word. When the ship gets to Surinam, Oroonoko is sold to Mr. Trefry, the kind and funny overseer of the Parham Plantation, who befriends him. This is when Oroonoko meets the person telling the story. She and Trefry tell the prince that he will be freed as soon as the lord-governor of Surinam, Lord Willoughby, arrives.

They dare not send Oroonoko to work because of his high social status, high level of education, and stunning looks. In the plantation house, he lives away from the other slaves. One day, he sees Imoinda as he walks with Trefry. The two people who love each other fall into each other’s arms and almost right away get married. Soon Imoinda becomes pregnant.


The fourth part of the summary Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

At this point, Oroonoko, who really wants his child to be born free, worries even more about being a slave, even though Trefry and the narrator keep telling him that everything will be fine when the governor comes. They try to keep him busy by taking him hunting, fishing, and to a native village.

Oroonoko is a great hunter. He kills two tigers by himself and is knocked out by an electric eel, but he still manages to hold on to his fishing rod. Even though the native village is a distraction (and another way for Behn to teach about the culture of the natives in this area), Oroonoko gets the other slaves on the plantation to rebel. They run away on Sunday night when the whites are drunk.

However, because they have to burn the brush in front of them, they leave a trail that is easy to follow. The plan is to start a new town near the water and look for a ship to take them back to Africa. The narrator, on the other hand, runs away to safety, but later she hears about what happened from someone who was there.

Byam talks with Oroonoko about giving up and promises him amnesty if he does. He tells Oroonoko once more that they will set him and his family and free and send back to Africa. Not a big surprise. But Byam lies to Oroonoko again and makes sure that as soon as he gives up, he beats Oroonoko badly and pours pepper on his wounds.


The final part of the summary Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Oroonoko is sad because he knows he will never be free and that his child will be born while he is still a slave. He tells Imoinda that he plans to kill her in an honorable way, get back at Byam, and then kill himself. She thanks her husband for letting her die with honor, and he uses his knife to cut her throat and cut off her face.

However, Oroonoko’s grief makes her weak, and she never has enough energy to go after Byam. As his depression gets worse, he sits next to the body of his dead wife for eight days until the smell brings Byam’s men to the scene.

When they arrive, they kill him right away. Lastly, Oroonoko stands still while they cut off his nose, ears, and one leg. He is smoking a pipe. Then he dies, and the brutes cut his body into four pieces.

This is the end of our content Oroonoko Summary. Thank you for reading the content. Anyway, if you want to read more summaries from Restoration and Eighteenth Century Fiction, please check the following articles:

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