Imoinda; or, The Queen of Nothing

In Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave, Aphra Behn recollects the story of the prince Oroonoko of Coramantien, a powerful, educated, well-loved "hero himself"(2313), who falls victim to his enslavement and the enslavement of his own mind. His constant strive for freedom leads him to his own disembodiment, and because of Aphra Behn\'s tale his story will never be forgotten. With so much focus on the heroic and tragic events of Oroonoko\'s life, a true tragic story is often looked over and forgotten. Back in a time where slavery was legal, women were property and being beautiful could lead to a death sentence, there seemed to be nothing worse than being gorgeous, black, and a woman in 1688, yet there is little to no focus on that major issue. In a novel where women are not completely helpless it still wondered on whether beauty was intended to be a gift or a curse. This novel opens up the question of whether or not beauty and gender can be the ultimate surrender of freedom and power. That question will be examined through the character analysis of Imoinda, which it is to be believed, deserves more acknowledgment for her life and the events leading up to her death, because it is throughout the novel she has almost little to no control over anything that happens to her, while Oroonoko has full control and is characterized as a noble hero while Imoinda is looked upon as more of a heroic casualty of her husbands demise. With an aim to emphasize that Imoinda was not a slave to slavery or the men in her life, but a slave to her beauty, it being both a blessing and a curse.
Imoinda\'s beauty seems to relinquish her right to humanity. She is very rarely viewed as a person, and when she is seen for something more than just beautiful, it has a tendency to be thrown in with her beauty. As if her beauty is her main attraction and the other parts of her are just an added benefit, "…fair Queen of Night, whose face and person was so exceeding all he had ever beheld, that lovely modesty with which she received him"(2318). In every description of her, her appearance is always the first to be mentioned. She seems more to be an object of motivation, amusement and lust to the world around her, rather than a living breathing human, with more qualities than just her virtue and modesty. More descriptions of Imoinda\'s character, "charming, delicate, sweet, innocent of youth and modesty, with a charm of wit surpassing all," leave little to no indication of her true nature. Not to say that these features are unobtainable, but to imply that these are the only qualities she has is an irrational thought. It is as if since she is so beautiful her entire character and being itself must fall in the same path of beauty so she can be desirable to all. She is seen as the perfect, ideal women. In her role as the perfect women she seems to loose everything about herself, her very existence is lost behind this facade. Without any real depth or flaws her character remains one-dimensional at best, in a sense she is more than not just the concept of beauty itself.
Everything in Imoinda\'s life is chosen for her, even her "choosing" of Oroonoko as her suitor seems more an the act of eventuality rather than a decision "she was indeed too great for any but a prince of her own nation to adore"(2318). Was it Imoinda\'s beauty that made it her fate to be wed to a person of noble stature? If the great prince was not destined to fall in love with and wed the most beautiful fair maiden in the novel then what sort of romance novel would that have been? In order for the sequence of the novel to happen the way it did, she had to "choose" him, or there wouldn\'t have been a story to be told. In light of that fact, her beauty is enough for Oroonoko\'s grandfather to find it justifiable to steal his grandson\'s betrothed because he "represented her to his fancy as the most