Oroonoko Essay Questions

  1. 1

    The narrator describes the native people in Oroonoko differently toward the end of the narrative compared to the way she describes them earlier. How might we account for this change?

  2. 2

    If Surinam was already inhabited by natives, why then the need to import African labor? What is the narrator's explanation for doing so? What are the intended and unintended consequences of doing so?

  3. 3

    How does the female narrative voice operate in Oroonoko?

  4. 4

    To what extent is Oroonoko an abolitionist tract?

  5. 5

    Does the narrator (or does Behn) ultimately favor or disfavor colonialism? What evidence may be brought to bear on each side of the question?

  6. 6

    In Oroonoko Behn refers to earlier rulers as exemplary models to which the African prince compares favorably. Name one or two such leaders and how their virtues or their legacy functions in the text.

  7. 7

    How does Behn characterize the African prince in order to appeal to seventeenth-century readers? Consider narration, imagery, comparisons, incidents, and other kinds of evidence and examples.

  8. 8

    What does Imoinda contribute to the narrative? Does she change throughout the story?

  9. 9

    Describe the Coramantien culture. Is it more virtuous than European society? What standards of virtue can be relied upon to compare one culture with another?

  10. 10

    Using Oroonoko's character and speeches as a guide, how does he view the values of life and liberty, and what does he do when going after liberty might finally cost him his life?