In her essay “Oroonoko’s Blackness,” Katherine Gallagher argues that there are three layers to “Oroonoko.” These layers are Oroonoko’s kingship, the relationship between Oroonoko’s blackness and the black ink, and the commodofication of Oroonoko. Gallagher argues that Oroonoko’s blackness not only illuminates the text itself but also the author’s presence as well. She writes that, “…the gleaming blackness of the eponymous hero corresponds to the narrator’s heightened presence.”(DeMaria, BL Critical Reader, 88). Therefore, Oroonoko and Behn step into the light because of the black print and the jet-black skin of Behn’s hero. In her essay Gallagher makes many assumptions regarding the audience who reads her text. She assumes that the reader has read and studied “The Unfortunate Bride;” knows biographical information about Aphra Behn; possesses knowledge about literary techniques; and knows how the slave trade worked in Africa. Despite these many assumptions made by Gallagher, her argument regarding the contrast of black and light in the text is applicable to the text. Her essay is well argued and is easily applied to the text of “Oroonoko.”
Gallagher first assumes that the reader has read other short stories by Behn, namely, “The Unfortunate Bride.” Throughout her essay, Katherine Gallagher continually refers to the story. For example, she states that the color of Mooria’s skin represents her “dark designs.” She then contrasts the notion of blackness in this story with the notion of blackness in “Oroonoko.” Gallagher writes that the representation of blackness in “The Unfortunate Bride” is the opposite of the picture given in “Oroonoko.” By reading these stories, the reader is able to un…
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…ied this Great Man, worthy of a better Fate, and a more sublime Wit than mine to write his Praise; yet, I hope, the Reputation of my Pen is considerable enough to make his Glorious Name to survive to all ages….”(BL Anthology, 461). Because she is part of the text and the text is illuminated by Oroonoko’s “heavenly light,” Behn’s presence is also illuminated in the text.
The success of Gallagher’s essay depends on conditions met by Behn in her work. Regardless of the many assumptions Katherine Gallagher makes in her work, the assumptions do not deplete the value of her words. Because Behn’s story is extremely will crafted, Gallagher successfully argues that Oroonoko as well as the presence of Behn herself are illuminated by the blackness of the print and by Oroonoko’s skin of “perfect ebony.”
British Literature Anthology Edited by Robert Demaria
Essay on Temptation in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Temptation in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
In the poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Gawain is a guest at Hautdesert Castle. During his stay at the castle, three separate hunts take place. These hunts also parallel temptations aimed at Gawain by the wife of the Lord of Hautdesert Castle. In each hunt scene, a characteristic of the prey of that hunt is personified in Gawain’s defense against the advances of the Lord’s wife.
The first temptation of Gawain is perhaps the most difficult for him to defend. This temptation corresponds with the hunt scene involving a deer, In terms of the hunt, the deer is hunted because it is a staple of the diet, or it is something that satisfies a person. In the same manner, the Lord’s wife viewed Gawain as art animal that she was hunting. She was pursued him on the sole basis of her carnal desire. This, her first temptation, is totally sexual. She says “Do with me as you will: that well pleases Inc.,/ For I Surrender speedily and sue for grace Which, to my mind, since I must, is much the best Course” (1215-1217-) She is viewing Gawain much as a hunter would view a deer. She has no interest in any kind of relationship, and she is not extensively flirting with him as she does in the next two temptations; she simply wants sex from him, plain and simple. She is, in a sense, “hunting” Gawain; hunting in that she is pursuing Gawain for the sole purpose of making him her trophy. If he falls prey to this temptation, then she has slain him. In his reaction to the lady, Gawain acts much like a deer. He first tries to entirely ignore her, but this tactic was unsuccessful. Then, he stealthily avoids her advances, not directly confronting her, but subtly downplaying the magnitude of her …
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…ce comes into play here as well; he accepts this sash as a foxy attempt to outwit the Green Knight in their pending encounter. In accepting this sash, though, Gawain has shown his weakness, cowardice. As a knight, Gawain is supposed to be protected by God alone. By accepting the sash, Gawain has shown that he has lost his faith in God, since lie feels the sash will do a better job in protecting him than God would. While it may be his only weakness, Gawain’s cowardice has done him no good in acting as a honorable, God-fearing knight.
In these temptations, it is evident that Gawain was being tested. Knowing the final out come of the story, it is possible to see that Bertilak and his wife planned the hunts and temptations to coincide with each other. Whether this is true or not, Gawain has certainly proven his honor during his brief stay at Hautdesert Castle.