Aphra Behn was an English writer from the 17th century. She was considered to be the female professional pioneer in English literature. Before she entered the world of literacy she was a spy, but left that world and needed support for her family which drove her to writing. It is strongly believed that her background for writing the fictional novel “Oronooko” was of firsthand experience while being a spy in Surinam. Other than Aphra being a woman herself, there is much evidence that lead us to know that Aphra’s texts have indeed been written by a woman and not by a male riter.
An example of Aphra’s female pen is the narrative voice in the novel “Oronooko”. The mere fact that the narrative voice in “Oronooko” is a woman doesn’t give away that it’s been written by a woman, but the feeling does. In the beginning of the novel we have the female voice describing Oronooko’s physical aspect. The female voice of the novel describes Oronooko as a perfect man or more like the perfect lover. Each description that is used emphases on Oronooko’s physical aspect as if it was as important as his personality.
Adjectives such as: “piercing” eyes, “perfect ebony, or polished Jet” skin, “rising and Roman” nose, “finest shaped ” lips, are used to create Oronooko’s character from a woman to women. It’s as if the narrator knew exactly what women like and wanted in a man, because it’s indeed a woman behind these descriptions. On top of being too precise with Oronooko’s description, the female voice comments that Oronooko is a white man with dark skin. Besides Oronooko’s physical descriptions, we have that the female voice also describes Oronooko’s ersonality.
The words that are used to describe Oronooko’s personality are so masculine and heroic to a woman’s point of view, but it could be arguably that a man could find them a bit too much for a man. Oronooko’s personality is being describe as “gallant” and a man of “delicate virtues” and further on the reading the narrators expresses that the story “contains some proof of the curiosity and daring of his great man, I was content to omit nothing of his character”. With every description of Oronooko we could say that his character s too sensitive to be the main character of this epic novel.
Creating a character like this is almost to perfect to fit any woman standards from that time and arguably from this time as well. Another aspect that gives away the fact that Oronooko was written by a female writer and not a male is the fact that Oronooko is the most faithful man in this novel and with much exaggeration in the world. His love to Imoinda goes far beyond anything physical. After Oronooko and Imoinda get married she is taken away y his grandfather and he sleeps with her, humiliates her and then sells her as a slave, but none of that stopped Oronooko’s love.
Even if Oronooko was lied to about Imoinda’s death he couldn’t let go of this woman and loved her deeply until the end, even after killing her. This type of immortal faithfulness is a characteristic that is pleasant to women. Therefore, it gives us a sign of a female writer. Another example of Aphra’s female pen is the excessive compassion and pity coming from the narrative voice. Oronooko’s novel is clearly an anti-slavery text, hich is brought through an epic love story and the fall of an “incredible” man.
Is shown with very description of every situation how the female voice feel that the slavery is unjust and that people like Oronooko suffered from such atrocities. To describe a story from a point of view of such compassion and pity towards the characters of the story is a very womanly, or motherly, way to view things that are horrible to other human beings. To sum up, even if Aphra’s text are obviously written by a woman because she is a oman, there are many factors that would lead us to believe that her works have been written by a woman.
The type of descriptions that she uses in her works such as “Oronooko” or even the poem “The Disappointment” are a clue that it’s a woman’s choice of words and not a man. The excessive emphasis on the characters personality, greatness and all positive attributes is also a very womanly trace. The kind of faithful love describe in the novel “Oronooko” and at some extent the patience from “The Disappointment” are also qualities that women like and expect from men.