Aphra Behn

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Aphra Behn
(1640 – 1689)
The Dream
All trembling in my arms Aminta lay,
Defending of the bliss I strove to take;
Raising my rapture by her kind delay,
Her force so charming was and weak.
The soft resistance did betray the grant,
While I pressed on the heaven of my desires;
Her rising breasts with nimbler motions pant;
Her dying eyes assume new fires.
Now to the height of languishment she grows,
And still her looks new charms put on;
– Now the last mystery of Love she knows,
We sigh, and kiss: I waked, and all was done.
`Twas but a dream, yet by my heart I knew,
Which still was panting, part of it was true:
Oh how I strove the rest to have believed;
Ashamed and angry to be undeceived!
Aphra Behn, born Aphra Johnson, was the first English woman to earn her living as a writer. Her parentage, date and place of her birth have never been established. It supposed that her father was a barber named James Johnson and she has been baptism with her brother Peter in the Church of SS. Gregory and Martin. But later information shows that both these children, Ayfara and Peter, died a few days later. Possibly the couple produced another daughter whom they also named Aphra (or Ayfara). All that is know for certain is that some unidentified child named Aphra travelled with a couple to Surinam (later called Dutch Guyana), from witch she returned in 1658. Probably in Surinam Aphra learned the history of the African prince Oroonoko and his beloved Imoinda, whose adventures she related in her novel Oroonoko (1° print: 1688; reprinted 1930).
She married a London merchant of Dutch extraction named Behn. Her writes and abilities brought her into high estimation at court and after her husband’s death in 1666, King Charles II employed her on secret service in the Netherlands during the Dutch War, with the pseudonym Astrea, under which she later published much of her verse. Her career as a secret agent was unsuccessful, and she returned to England exhausted and penniless, forced even to serve time in debtors' prison, and this led to her writing as a means of supporting herself. She produced many plays and novels, also poems and pamphlets.
Aphra was famous for her lifestyle as well as her works; her denial of woman's subservience to man and her high-living, bohemian existence has led critics to describe her as a forerunner of the feminist movement. Mrs. Behn attained great popularity and had become the centre of much scandal before her death in London, April 16,1689 when, strange to relate, she was buried in Westminster abbey.
Oroonoko, or the royal slave is a short novel concerned of the grandson of an African king, who falls in love with Imoinda, the daughter of that king's top general. His father, the king, falls in love with Imoinda too. He commands that Imoinda become one of his wives but Imoinda choose to get married with Oroonok, and she prefer kill herself rather than be wed to an elderly king.
Because of her choice, the king has Imoinda sold as a slave. Oroonoko is then tricked and captured by an evil English slaver captain. Both are carried to Surinam, where the two lovers are reunited, but Imoinda's beauty has attracted the unwanted desires of the English deputy-governor, Byam.
Oroonoko organizes a slave revolt. The slaves are hunted down by the military forces and compelled to surrender on Byam's promise of amnesty. However, when the slaves surrender, Oroonoko is whipped. To avenge his honor, and to express his natural worth, Oroonoko decides to kill Byam and, to protect Imoinda from violation and subjugation after his death, he decides to kill her.
The two lovers discuss the plan, and Imoinda willingly agrees. Oroonoko's love forbids him from killing his dear one and compels him to protect her, but when he stabs her, she dies with a smile on her face.
Oroonoko is found mourning by her body and is kept from killing himself, only to be publicitly executed. During his death by dismemberment, Oroonoko calmly smokes a pipe and stoically withstands all the pain without crying out.
* The Fair Jilt
* Agnes de Castro
* Oroonoko
* Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister
* The Forced Marriage
* The Amorous Prince
* The Dutch Lover
* Abdelazer
* The Town Fop
* The Rover
* Sir Patient Fancy
* The Feigned Courtesans
* The Young King
* The False Count
* The Roundheads
* The City Heiress
* Like Father, Like Son
* The Lucky Chance
* The Emperor of the Moon
* The Widow Ranter
* The Younger Brother
Kety Varela IV Liceo 21.03.2006