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Oroonoko and Maggie - Conflict of the Self - In this essay I will be interested in the conflict of the self of the protagonists of two novels - Oroonoko: or the Royal Slave and The Mill on the Floss.

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Pavl�na Tejcov� - 6th year Independent Readings PhDr. Vera Palenska, CSc. 20 June 2004 Oroonoko and Maggie - Conflict of the Self In this essay I will be interested in the conflict of the self of the protagonists of two novels - Oroonoko: or the Royal Slave and The Mill on the Floss. Even though the novels may seem at first glance incomparable, dealing with societies of different periods and cultures, both are works of almost startling sadness and of affecting stories of personal tragedies. Protagonists� personalities, their inner selves, are in constant clashes with the societies that surrond them. They are in a way outsiders, whose attemts to conform can never be fulfilled, as they don�t fit into the value systems of their periods. The Mill on the Floss, as all Eliot�s novels, was written in Victorian England and the values of that society are reflected in the book. This was a male dominated society, (even though ruled by a woman Queen Victoria) where women were treated as second class citizens, expected to marry and remain at home, unless they chose a respectable profession such as teaching. The text makes it clear that Maggie is expected to fit the Victorian mold for womanhood, which includes being submissive and passive, leaving "education" to the males. Similarly, the white Surinam community expects Oroonoko to fit its opinions about blackness and savagery of a slave. Aphra Behn�s Oroonoko was written in 1688, at a period when to express the views on an african american slave openly and passionately, was unsuited for a person, let alone a woman, to do. ...read more.


Only a very limited group including Philip still show sympathy for her and only a dreadful flood in which Maggie tries to save Tom can lead the well-meaning but doomed girl to some kind of transcendence. Even though Maggie�s tragedy originates in her internal competing impulses, not in her public disgrace, yet, Eliot remains concerned with the workings of a community - both social and economic - and tracks their interrelations, as well as their effect upon characters, as part of her realism. In the first part of the novel, Eliot alludes to the effect these communal forces have on Maggie�s and Tom�s formation, showing that the past holds a cumulative presence and has a determining effect upon characters who are open to its influence. Maggie holds the memory of her childhood experience in community sacred and her connection to that time comes to affect her future behavior. Here, the past is not something to be escaped nor is it something that will rise again to threaten, but it is instead an inherent part of Maggie�s character, making fidelity to it a necessity. However, Maggie never manages to internalise the accepted social values and always retains an internal distance from them, even as she comes to recognise their ubiquitous hold over others. Her basic childhood emotion is that of frustration, and her character is best evoked through a memorable sequence of childhood vignettes in which her natural attitude clashes with the alien world of social formality. ...read more.


Instead, he was whipped heavily, which was the worst indignity he felt in his life and he planned to revenge on Byam. Oroonoko�s effort to revenge led him to the strongest conflict of the self. He was aware that if he should do his deed and died, Imoinda would be in a great danger, freely exposed to the whites� rage. He could not bear this thought and decided to kill her in the name of revenge, the one he loved most in the world. It was really not suprising that after the act he went mad. Moreover, his sacrifice was useless. He did it because he wanted to revenge, but his sorrow was such that he was incapable of it. His final execution, even though very humiliating and nasty, freed him. He had no reason to live. He lost his lovely Imoinda and there was no chance of his return to the native land. In fact, both novels deliberately attempt to explore the consequences of the choices people have to make when they interact with others, struggling to find a just image of themselves and a place within the social order. The plots of the novels are constructed so as to highlight the implications of the choice of social action. These implications of choice are essentially twofold. First, our choices and actions affect those around us and can rebound back upon us - our actions may indirectly determine our fate. But secondly, our choices also act directly, not just indirectly, upon us by forming or reforming our own character through each act of practical moral decision. ...read more.

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