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Essay - Violence in Oronooko and Robinson Crusoe

Essay - Violence in Oronooko and Robinson Crusoe - Derby 1...

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Derby 1 Margaret Derby ENGL 2320 Dr. Santesso 10 February 2011 Violence and Rhetoric in Oroonoko and Robinson Crusoe Was Raskolnikov’s killing of Alyona Ivanovna in Crime and Punishment acceptable? Were Macbeth’s murders for the sake of fulfilling a prophecy permissible? Many classic novels focus on the justification of violence: Oroonoko by Aprah Behn and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe are two of these. These are both fictional books written in 18 th century England, and while violence is not the central theme of either novel, it does play an important role in the development of the larger premises of the works. The theme is used to show the savage behavior of colonization in Oroonoko , and it is used as a means for survival in Robinson Crusoe . To an audience, none of the brutality seems justifiable at first, but the use of language in Oroonoko makes the motives for violence seem more valid, whereas in Robinson Crusoe it seems solely cruel and savage. There are multiple scenes of violence in Oroonoko ; however, the most striking of these is when Oroonoko kills his wife Imoinda, and unborn child, in order to get revenge on the white men that have so brutally abused them. The white, “civilized” men in the novel look upon this act in the way that we as an audience might first view it, as one of the most inhumane, despicable things a person could do. They condemn him, calling out “ O monster! that hast murdered thy wife ” when they see him (Behn 73). While the action might seem savage to the characters, there is a disconnect between their view and the way the audience reads the passage. The way Aphra Behn describes the killing causes the audience to sympathize with Oroonoko. It begins saying,
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Derby 2 “He (grieved to death)…took her up, and embracing her with all the passion and languishment of a dying lover, drew his knife to kill this treasure of his soul, this pleasure of his eyes. While tears
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Essay - Violence in Oronooko and Robinson Crusoe - Derby 1...

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