While The Royal Slave follows many different themes throughout the story, one of the leading characteristics of the character Oroonoko is honor. The prince has a strong understanding in what is right, or just, and follows this philosophy through his death. All of the actions executed by Oroonoko are done with full commitment. His status within Coramantien grants him high respect from the people, as his allegiance never changes or is confused. He stands to protest when things seem to be going south, holding high his built up pride. An example would be when he refused to eat or talk and would rather die than be sold off.
I find it interesting that he seems to have even higher morals than the king does. He is always looking to do what’s right, whereas the king is greedy, selfish and generally abuses his power.
What makes Oroonoko different and more honorable than other characters is that he will die to preserve his honor, or alternatively, kill someone he loves to preserve theirs. (ie. to kill Imoinda to protect her from the colonists).
By being a man of his word and sticking to his honorable state, he can very well be taken advantage of by people who do NOT stick to their word. For example, the king is able to lie and cheat around facing Oroonoko after “killing” Imoinda.
Being a slave is tough for Oroonoko because he cannot represent his people in any way, and his name is tarnished. He refuses most of the labor, and believes that death would be more honorable.
One thought on “Oroonoko and honor”
Hey Zach, great post.
When I was reading the story I did find it weird that Oroonoko felt it was necessary to kill Imoinda. I wonder if other people who read the story feel that the death was beneficial to anyone, or if it truly preserved her honor. I realize that the both of them were backed into a corner, but it hardly seems like the best way to preserve anything. I also understand that a lifetime in slavery is nothing that you want to choose for your unborn child, but is killing your wife better? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe I lack honor though. I’ve been accused of it before.
Thank you for your post!