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The Essential Displacement: Lordship and Sovereignty in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave

Author:

Fereshteh Zangenehpour

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Abstract

For Oronooko, to be both royal and slave, is to dwell within the split of self, a division that mirrors Hegelian dichotomy of the master and slave relationship, which, according to Derrida, is a restricted economy that reproduces meaning. Derrida’s studies, on the other hand, show that Bataille’s reinterpretation of Hegel’s discourse on the question of the dialectic of the master and slave and absolute knowledge submits to an essential displacement, which expresses a non-discursive existence; the absence of meaning, that resembles Oroonoko’s final sufferings and his death. Additionally, his indifference to the outcome of his sacrifice pulls him out of the Hegelian dialectics. Instead, through a burst of laughter, which is the rupturing of the concept of subjectivity, Oroonoko exceeds the limits of his phenomenological desires, the realm of meaning and reason, thereby dies a sovereign.

The dialectical interaction between Hegelian lordship and bondage, and Derrida’s readings of Bataille’s concept of laughter are the main focuses of my paper where I examine Oronooko as a sovereign, as a totally other.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.213
How to Cite: Zangenehpour, F., 2010. The Essential Displacement: Lordship and Sovereignty in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 9(1), pp.86–99. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.213
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Published on 01 Jan 2010.

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