Oroonko or the Royal Slave sample essay
Oroonko or the Royal Slave tells a story about the life of a man captured and sold into slavery and some of the adventures his life encompassed. Oroonko was the grandson to the King of Coramantien. He possessed a very rare and unique magnificence that all admired. Oroonko was brought up learning and living the life of an honorable soldier and prince. He was well educated and well-liked far and wide by all who knew him. Oroonko became acquainted and quickly fell in love with his mentor’s daughter, Imoinda. They soon decided to be joined as husband and wife.
According to the customs of their time, Oroonko’s grandfather, the King of Coramantien, was to be allowed the opportunity to bless the union before anything became official. The king had heard of Imoinda’s beauty and instead of blessing their union, the king took Imoinda for himself. This very greatly disgraced Oroonko. With the passing of time, the love Oroonko held in his heart for Imoinda did not fade. He desperately wanted to be with Imoinda and was eventually afforded the chance. The jealous and ever-suspicious king discovered Imoinda and Oroonko together and became very angry.
The penalty for treasonous acts, as this was most certainly considered, was death. Oroonko was able to escape, but Imoinda was not. The king, unable to put such a beauty as Imoinda to death, instead sold her to a slave trader to be shipped off to America to become a slave. Death would have been preferable to Imoinda and she begged for it, but the king wanted nothing to do with her any longer. Selling Imoinda into slavery was kept an absolute secret from Oroonko. The king knew if Oroonko ever learned what had really happened to Imoinda, his rage would be unequaled.
And so it was assumed by all that Imoinda was, in fact, put to death for her treachery. At this point, the king felt it necessary to make his peace with Oroonko. He realized and wanted to repent of the disgrace he brought upon his grandson. He also felt extremely guilty about his decision to sell Imoinda into slavery, but again, that was not widely known. Oroonko conceded no revenge would be taken on his part against the king. Time passed and in the course of this time Oroonko became a highly decorated and popular war general and hero.
Forever longing in his heart for Imoinda, Oroonko resigned to live the life he was born to live – the life of a nobleman. It was to happen after a particularly successful battle, Oroonko came home to a celebration. At this celebration, there was a ship’s captain who was familiar to Oroonko and they spent some time together. Oroonko was aware that this particular captain was a slave trader, but had no reason to distrust him or hold animosity against him. Unjustly so, as it would turn out, since this captain deceived Oroonko into a tour of his ship and then shackled him to the ship and set sail for America to be sold into slavery.
The captain continued in his deception while on the voyage and convinced Oroonko that he and his men would be let go at the next port. Oroonko had not encountered dishonesty as was present in the heart of the captain before, so he suspected nothing and trusted the captain to keep his word. When they arrived on land, Oroonko and his men were at once sold to the highest bidder and sent off to be slaves. Oroonko worked for a short while and then heard of a woman of great beauty who was also a slave. He soon found Imoinda and they were married.
Oroonko lived as a slave, but was restless to regain his freedom. He frequently spoke to his owner and pleaded for this and was put off time and again for one reason or another. He was given promise after promise or release to no avail. Oroonko soon realized exactly how dishonorable the slave owners were. With only a little effort, Oroonko called together the slaves from all around and when they had gathered, he convinced them they were being treated unfairly and should leave their cruel and uncaring owners to find a better life somewhere else.
With his eloquence and affirming manner, Oroonko was able to sway them that even the evils of the wilderness could be overcome with enough conviction and team work. Regardless of the hardships facing a journey of such proportion, losing your life fighting was more honorable than being treated like animals. Unfortunately, the revolt did not take the slaves far. Their trail was easily discovered and it was not long before they were caught and surrendered. The terms of the surrender Oroonko struck with the slave owners who had caught them included fairness and avoidance of retribution or retaliation against the group who had attempted escape.
However, disregarding the word given at the surrender, the slave owners marched their slaves back to their respective plantations and they were all punished. Oroonko, however, was taken to a post, tied securely, and severely lashed. There was barely any life left in him when the evil slave owners were finished. Oroonko made up his mind that he would one day seek revenge against such untrustworthy, wicked, and dishonorable men. While the end of the story tells that this plan was not brought to fruition, Oroonko left this world a legend. He held his honor to his dying breath. The story of Oroonko is an excellent anti-slavery argument.
Through the story, the reader is allowed a glimpse of a man who could have very easily been from any race or station in life. Oroonko was well educated. He was taken in and taught by the best of the best. Many slave owners, in those days, believed slaves were nothing but unintelligent, low-life heathens, but Oroonko was none of these. Oroonko may not have believed in the same religion or faith as the slave owners, but his beliefs were just as important and essential as theirs. The slave owners judged without considering the differences that existed between their very unique cultures.
For example, Oroonko and Imoinda came from a country where wives were expected to give honor to their husbands. Imoinda pleaded with Oroonko to take her life as an alternative to living without him by her side. She considered being killed by someone so noble as Oroonko was far superior than living as a slave. The slave owners and white men would not and did not understand this logic. By their standards, Oroonko was a vile and murderous heathen. Slavery abruptly stole men, women, and children from their place of origin and flung them into a life of degradation and submission.
They were required to work for little to nothing by way of payment and treated as no better than dogs. Oroonko spoke of them being whipped at the end of the day. It made no difference if you had done well or poorly, all slaves were whipped. The “gods” these slave owners prayed to and had faith in was a puzzling deity to Oroonko. His faith in his gods was built on very different standards, and Oroonko believed so strongly in these gods, there was no questioning how others should be treated and how one should conduct themselves in all situations.
Everyone deserved to be treated with honor and respect. The faith of the slave owners came into question several times. Oroonko was unable to understand how these people could on any level of decency treat anyone the way the slaves were treated. While it remained unsaid, Oroonko must have certainly felt as though all were created different, but equal. Not all slave owners were cruel in their treatment of slaves. Oroonko befriended several compassionate men along the way. The narrator of the novel happened to be one of these men.
While remaining benevolent in spirit, these men did own slaves and were hesitant, if not downright unwilling, to grant them their freedom. None of the men and women sold into slavery deserved the life they were forced to lead. The white men who bought them did not consider the lives they left behind. These were real people with real lives and real customs and real traditions. The religion practiced – on whatever level – by the white slave owners was not the only way to believe. The simple belief they held that they were right did not by any means make that a truth.
The Negroes held their own beliefs, and right or wrong according to someone else’s standards, they had every right to believe however they chose. Oroonko was a prince and more than likely more educated than many of the slave owner’s themselves, and yet was treated with contempt and disrespect. With his breeding and the instruction he had received, Oroonko knew in his head and in his heart that treating anyone in such a manner was unreasonable and outrageous. In the end, despite the best efforts of the slave owners, Oroonko died as he had lived with his honor and dignity.
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