Ignorance is Bliss: Aphra Behn’s Paradise Lost Featuring Black Characters Falling from African Heaven Nevednost je blaženost: izgubljeni raj Aphre Behn s črnskimi liki, ki padajo iz afriških nebes

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Acta Neophilologica, vol.57, no.1, pp.63-77, 2024 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 57 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.4312/an.57.1.63-77
  • Journal Name: Acta Neophilologica
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.63-77
  • Keywords: Adam and Eve, Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, Paradise Lost, primitivism
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article reads Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave (1688) as a rewriting of the paradise story of Adam and Eve largely identified with John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) by literary circles. Meeting the true colours of civilization via slavery, the paradisal innocence of Oroonoko and Imoinda grows into a horrible experience that brings their downfall from African paradise, similar to Adam and Eve losing their innocence for the sake of knowledge. Drawing on the principles of primitivism, Behn emblematicizes a black Adam and Eve as representatives of mankind which subverts colonial and patriarchal discourses all in the same breath. In this respect, the article asseverates that Oroonoko serves as a microcosm of humanity at large which delineates the unremitting war between nature and civilization, and innocence and experience, as foregrounded in recent ecological studies, as well as men and women.