9 April 2018
Slave Narratives Differences: Oroonoko and Frederick Douglass
In the 1830’s slave narratives were an important piece to show purpose of the millions of people across the world who suffered during that period. Even today, slave narratives are important to American literature because they describe the African American history and complexities between the whites and African Americans. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was published in 1845, and is known for being one of the most famous narratives written by a former slave. The reason why this piece is famous in literature is because it has factual details of the events of his life through his own perspective. On the other hand, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn expresses her views on an African American slave in the 17th century. The story of Oroonoko begins with Oroonoko claiming his undying love for Imoinda, but instead of this being a perfect love story that ends in a beautiful sunset, the two are captured by the British, and two lovers are brought to Surinam as slaves. The book is written in third and first person, and Behn gives herself the authority to write about the life of this slave, since she had the opportunity to encounter and befriend the price and Imoinda. Although both stories provide semi similar settings, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass rises above Oroonoko in depth and insight. Frederick Douglass produces an overall more powerful effect by showing us a difference in narrative style, freedom/impact, and offering the audience with intense information first hand of the brutality slaves had to encounter.
The most important difference between these two stories is the contrasting narrative style. In the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, the story is told in first person point of view. His narration provides the audience a look into his life by describing the events that he encountered. Instead of merely telling us a brief statement of him witnessing his master Anthony whipping his Aunt, the author takes us into a deep insight with imagery.
“Her arms were stretched up at their full length, so that she stood upon the ends of her toes. He then said to her, “Now, you d—d b—h, I’ll learn you how to disobey my orders!” and after rolling up his sleeves he commenced to lay on the heavy cow skin, and soon the warm, red blood came dripping down to the floor (Douglass 239).”
Albert E. Stone describes it as “his analogy must have been appropriate way of giving his experience coherence and shape (140).” Douglass uses descriptive language which gives shape to show the audience depth of the moment.
Furthermore, Aphra Behn narrative style is a mixture of first and third person point of view. Behn begins the story by letting the audience know that everything she witnesses is true, and that she encountered and befriended Oroonoko during her time in Surinam. The prince Oroonoko spoke to her ab...