Oroonoko

Modes of Seduction as Political Discourse in Aphra Behn's "Oroonoko" College

'The telling of a story of seduction is also a mode of seduction.' (Ros Ballaster)

In our contemporary world, to 'seduce' or be 'seduced' often has a sexual connotation, of a person persuading another, using various techniques, to engage in a sexual act with them. However, whilst this kind of seduction is apparent in Aphra Behn's work, seduction can also mean, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: 'to lead (a person) astray in conduct or belief; to draw away from the right or intended course of action to or into a wrong one.' This definition suggests that seduction is a kind of deception or sabotage; the difference being that seduction is an attractive and subtle art. Seduction, both sexual and deceptive, is prevalent in Behn's Oroonoko, with the king's failed seduction of Imoinda, the false promises of the slave-traders, and perhaps most significantly, the narrator's own seduction of the reader; indeed making the 'story of seduction' a 'mode of seduction.' If indeed Ballaster's statement is true, it implies that Behn's story is a measured and deliberate attempt to lead the reader into believing something, an attempt perhaps to lead her contemporary readers away from conventional opinion. This essay will explore the...

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