In the story, Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave, written by Aphra Behn, the main character Oroonoko is described as an African prince who, along with the primitive Indians and noble Africans of this region, strictly adheres to a code of virtue that many “civilized” Christians appear to either disobey or disregard. When oppressed by the adverse and negative attitudes depicted by this “civilized” white society, Oroonoko maintains his code of virtue and espouses the title of “Noble Savage” by upholding his honor, his religious beliefs, and his intellectual supremacy throughout his adversities.
First, Oroonoko maintains his code of virtue by preserving his tenet of honor regardless of his circumstances. Despite the cunning and deceitfulness of many people who try to trick him, capture him, and eventually trigger the deaths of himself and his only love, Imoinda and their baby, Oroonoko holds onto to his strong principles, which he learned in part from his French tutor growing up. Oroonoko displays these values when the slave captain requests Oroonoko visit his ship wherein the captain seized Oroonoko and intended to sell Oroonoko as a slave. Oroonoko and his men preferred death in honor to imprisonment as a slave. The captain, in order to prevent Oroonoko and his men from committing self-starvation while on the slave ship, sends a message that he, in hindsight, believes that he has wronged Oroonoko and that he will release him and his men once they are near land:
And Oroonoko, whose honor was such as he never had violated a word in his life himself, much less a solemn asseveration, believed in an instant what this man said, but replied, he expected for a confirmation of this to have his shameful fetters dismissed. (2332)
The captain responds that his deed was too horrible and worries that Oroonoko might retaliate against him:
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