Social Hierarchy and Gender Roles in Fantomina and Oroonoko

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Gender roles and social hierarchy play a vital part in many literary works. Milton’s Paradise Lost strengthens this argument portraying gender as the downfall of humanity. Gender roles and a hierarchal universe places Man, which is associated with the spirit, above Woman, which is associated with desire and the human body. Fantomina and Oroonoko are stores of this hierarchy being twisted and thrown out of order and then end with the return to the assumed natural order. Both Fantomina and Oroonoko, pregnancy is a symbol of the necessity of keeping to the traditional social and hierarchal order in those times.

Oroonoko is a manly man, a general in his nation’s army and a leader in his community that is recognized by all. He is placed at the top of the social order. He finds a suitable wife named Imoinda who he falls madly in love with. Continue reading to find out that both were betrayed by their king, Imoinda sold into slavery and Oroonoko tricked into slavery. The two, Oroonoko and Imoinda, both once at the top of the social order now placed in the bottom. Immediately his captures recognized his royalty, hence the subtitle The Royal Slave, but how can one be royalty and also a slave? This statues threatens the social order of hierarchy.

Oroonoko, once a prince brought down to nothing wants to regain his freedom that he lost and immediately starts to plan his escape. But an unfortunate event takes place as Imoinda becomes pregnant, which is a symbolic form of impending reckoning. Both Imoinda and Oroonoko become increasingly distressed about the pregnancy. They don’t want their new born baby to be born into slavery when both are high born in their native land. The increasing thought in both their minds was the unlikely chance of their liberty and not raising their child as a free people.

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