Tragedy and Romance in Oroonoko and Candide College

Tragedy and romance are two genres that often go hand-in-hand to effectively enhance the qualities of each throughout the text in which they are present. Two texts that we have read this semester, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and Voltaire’s Candide, are reminiscent of both genres, interweaving the different styles to create complex stories that cannot be easily put into either category. Oroonoko and Candide both use elements of tragedy and romance throughout their two stories, but each predominantly can be categorized as one of these genres based on the way it uses the elements of the other: essentially, Oroonoko is a tragedy because of the way Behn uses features of romance throughout it, and Candide is a comedic romance because of the way Voltaire uses features of tragedy as the story unfolds.

Before delving into the different elements of romance and tragedy that both Voltaire and Behn use throughout their respective texts, I would like to discuss exactly what a “romance” entails for the sake of the argument that these elements enhance the ultimate tragedy of Oroonoko. First and most obviously, a love story of some sort must be present; something must make the hero and the heroine fall in love and want to be together, and these two...

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