Compare And Contrast Aphra Bhen's Oroonoko The Royal Slave And Candide, Or Optimism

1637 words - 7 pages

Write an essay of 1,500 words in which you compare and contrast the two passages below, taken from Behn's 'Oroonoko' or The Royal Slave and Voltaire's 'Candide', or Optimism.In your discussion pay particular attention to the ways in which the contexts of European colonisation and exploration inform the two passages.Aphra Bhen was a prolific female playwright and author during the restoration period of English history. Bhen herself stood by the power of the monarchy. Her book 'Oroonoko' has hints within the text that royalty is seen as set apart from the rest of society; and that rank is the natural order of things. Though little is really known about Behn's early years, evidence suggests that she may have had a Catholic upbringing; (1) however, in considering the text for analysis, Bhen's position on religion shows that she found religion very constrictive to society, which I will discuss in detail later.François-Marie Arouet who is also known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state. He was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, and his Book 'Candide or Optimism' is a satirical philosophical tale which I will also discuss in detail later.The first text to be analysed is found on page 11 of 'Oroonoko'. The text depicts the "Indian" natives of Surinam, how they appear to the narrator, how they show love to each other and how they interact with the English governor.The text begins with a vivid description of the natives. 'they are extreme modest bashful, very shy and nice of being touched…' […] '…and though they are all thus naked if one lives forever among them, there is not seen an indecent action or glance.' This is a vivid description of innocence, and leads to the use of poetic language when discussing erotic love: eg :-'he pursues her with eyes and sighs were all his language' while she: '…looked down with all blushing modesty.'. This is also a clever use of the narrative structure known as vocalisation, and gives a powerful impression of how the natives feel for each other. However the tone she uses in the text is also hyperbolic, in as much as she romanticises the natives she describes. Also by doing this the natives are shown as passive.The text also contains Biblical perspective and religious connotations. In the first quarter of the narrative she states '…so like our parents before the fall…' which she also connects with: '…and these people represented to me an absolute idea of the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin…' By placing these comments in this conjunction, together with the innocence she creates, she thus connects both the native man and the woman to Adam and Eve within their setting:- the jungle of Surinam, which thus creates an impression of the Garden of Eden as described in the...

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