Analysis Of The First Slave Narrative By Aphra Bren Essay

1192 Words Dec 1st, 2014 5 Pages
Oroonoko, written at the tail end of the 17th century, has been called out as the first slave narrative. Written by Aphra Bren in 1688, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave paints Oroonoko almost like a divine character, the pinnacle of African moral, and decorum standards. Oroonoko, both an African general, and heir presumptive to the throne of his native land, speaks, thinks, and acts like any other man from Europe, but not at all like the people from his own land. Bren’s text specifically and deliberately ignores the plight of the lower classes, and the customs of Oroooko’s native people, instead focusing on the similarities between Europeans, and Oroonoko. Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave, despite its reputation as the first slave narrative, is in fact a conflicting text: the fact that Oroonoko is mentioned positively with the Africans, but the Native Americans are mentioned negatively shows that Aphra Brehn is conflicted. The cultural norms, along with the desire to treat others fairly, create cognitive dissonance.
Foremost, Brehn’s cognitive dissonance comes out in her differing treatment towards three races. The African race is treated in a civilized manner at the beginning, closely akin to the English. However, the Indians, Surmium’s native race, are treated harshly: Brehn says that they have “strange aspects (Brehn 41), so is much impressed that Oroonoko communes with them. Indians have attacked British colonies in the Americas quite some time now, so Brehn has animosity…

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