Oroonoko Important Quotes

Aphra Behn

Oroonoko

  • 28-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features an extended summary and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a literary scholar with a PhD in English
Access Full Summary

Oroonoko Important Quotes

1. “ike our first Parents before the Fall, it seems as if they had no Wishes, there being nothing to heighten Curiosity: but all you can see, you see at once, and every Moment see; and where there is no Novelty, there can be no Curiosity” (6).

Here, the narrator compares the indigenous people of Surinam to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Like them, the Surinamese go naked and know no shame. Unlike our “first Parents”, however, there is nothing to stimulate their curiosity—there is no Tree of Knowledge for Eve to eat from—and without curiosity, there can be no change, no innovation, and no civilization.

2. “They have a native Justice, which knows no Fraud; and they understand no Vice, or Cunning, but when they are taught by the White Men” (7).

Here again, the Surinamese are represented as innocent and without wickedness. Indeed, it is only through the influence of colonizing White peoplethat these people learn cunning and vice. Thus, the novella seems to question the value of colonialism.

3. “e was adorn’d with a native Beauty, so transcending all those of his gloomy Race, that he struck an Awe and Reverence, even into those that knew not his Quality” (9-10).

This is one of the first descriptions of Oroonoko, one which emphasizes his physical beauty and implies that this is but an outward manifestation of his “quality” or character.

4. “He knew almost as much as if he had read much” (11).

Here the narrator is still discussing Oroonoko, this time focusing on his intellect. There is a suggestion that he is at a disadvantage in an oral society—where writing isn’t widespread—and would have known more if he had lived in a literate society. Literacy then becomes another marker of civilization in the novella and suggests that Cormantien is less civilized than other countries because it is an oral society.

5. “His face was not of that brown rusty Black which most of that Nation are, but a perfect Ebony, or polished Jet. His eyes were the most aweful that could be seen, and very piercing; the White of ʼem…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 2409 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Oroonoko.