compare and contrast aphra Bhen's Oroonoko the royal slave and candide, or optimism

Essay by AlphadogUniversity, Bachelor'sB, January 2013

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Write an essay of 1,500 words in which you compare and contrast the two passages below, taken from Behn's 'Oroonoko' or The Royal Slave and Voltaire's 'Candide', or Optimism.

In your discussion pay particular attention to the ways in which the contexts of European colonisation and exploration inform the two passages.

Aphra Bhen was a prolific female playwright and author during the restoration period of English history. Bhen herself stood by the power of the monarchy. Her book 'Oroonoko' has hints within the text that royalty is seen as set apart from the rest of society; and that rank is the natural order of things. Though little is really known about Behn's early years, evidence suggests that she may have had a Catholic upbringing; (1) however, in considering the text for analysis, Bhen's position on religion shows that she found religion very constrictive to society, which I will discuss in detail later.

François-Marie Arouet who is also known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state. He was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, and his Book 'Candide or Optimism' is a satirical philosophical tale which I will also discuss in detail later.

The first text to be analysed is found on page 11 of 'Oroonoko'. The text depicts the "Indian" natives of Surinam, how they appear to the narrator, how they show love to each other and how they interact with the English governor.

The text begins with a vivid description of the natives. 'they are extreme modest bashful, very shy and nice of being touched…' […] '…and though they are all thus naked...