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English Literature Before 1790
Essay #21: Assess the role of the female characters in Oroonoko
Feminist point of view and psychoanalysis

Notes to LCY
We change the focus now
We talk about how the narrator tells more than stories
She portrays 3 things - all paradoxical
1. Her position in the book – the implication of power in society, and her flip to author creating a superior position
2. Her uncertainty over female power – the flip
3. Her subordination (submission) – her paradoxical actions and her will (can also mention what she has seen)
Focus on 3 things on how they affect the 3 things it portrays
1. Patriarchy
2. Oppression
3. Stereotyping
When the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1973) wrote “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” (p. 301), it raised the idea that instead of any biological, psychological, or economic causes, being a women is purely a social construction in a patriarchal society to oppress women. The use of the word “becomes” implies a voluntary submission that under a patriarchal settings, women embrace the stereotypical norms of what constitutes femininity, hence “become” a woman (Butler, 1986). Under such settings in a parochial society, the birth of Oroonoko highlights the paradoxical traits of female though its display of psychological struggles occurring between the main characters.

Oroonoko, commonly regarded as the most famous book by the first English female professional writer Aphra Behn in 1680 (already fits the feminist agenda), is often seen as a literature that predisposes the movement of feminism (Todd, 2000). This essay seeks to assess and evaluate the female characters in this book from a feminist perspective, where the focus on evaluation is the contradictory actions and course of thoughts taken by the narrator. It is easily seen that the narrator is one of the most important person in…...

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