Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and Martin Luther’s On Trade and Usury
Aphra Behn and Martin Luther are prominent authors in the field of analyzing the issues of justice. Their works are still considered as of great value as they still helps political scientists in deriving justice oriented conclusion in different difficult situations. The selected narrations; Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and Martin Luther’s On Trade and Usury are appreciated by the readers for identifying the thematic issues related to the concept of Justice. The term justice has been often identified as a concept that deals directly to moral righteousness. Its functionalities are very much based on legal, ethical, natural law, rational, fairness, purpose of equity and religion (Konow, 2003). These are the aspects that are the core issues that determine the existence and the consequences of justice in human society. There are different interpretations related towards the understanding of justice. The practical and the theological interventions are the commonest of all.
In ‘Oroonoko’, the pathetic life of Imoinda definitely questions the existence of justice in Africa (1688). The way Imoinda is compelled to lose her virginity and gets sold as a slave, Behn adds the elements of tortures and excessive suppression of rulers over their people;
“the Obedience the People pay their King was not at all inferiour to what they paid their Gods” (p. 12).
In the same way the dominance of British Empire has been depicted by the selling of Oroonoko and his men as slaves. The matters related to justice in this narration are beyond any ethical or moral considerations. No matter whoever it is; the activities to be sold as slave has been illustrated as a sin by people from every age and is well depicted as
“sold most of ‘em to these parts” and offered him with “Divine Homage” (p. 41).
Behn is very clear about the practices of slavery and opposed every inch of it through the revolt initiated by Oroonoko. The author adds a very crucial point of justice to the narration. This point refers to the context when Oroonoko decides to kill Byam, the one who dominates Oroonoko’s revolt against slavery. With this decision, Oroonoko also decides to kill his beloved Imoinda.
The logic that has been forwarded seems to be very proper for the society that Behn referred. The reason was that after killing Byam, Oroonoko, will not be allowed to live. He will be killed instantaneously. After the death of Oroonoko, Imoinda will not be spared by the rulers. They will make her life terrible and willlead her to the verge of death. To prevent all these circumstance, Oroonoko decided to kill Imoinda with Byam. Added to this the act of public execution of Oroonoko, has been glorified by Behn. To modern society this is an insane decision, but for the African society of 1960, Behn called it a ‘pure justice’.
In ‘On Trade and Usury’, Luther (2009) is very much personal in elaborating the context of justice. He provides the analytical purview of justice from various social and personal contexts. For Luther, the issues related to conscience and natural laws are integral to human capacity to decide justice. He includes the declarations led by Christianity to see justice from a more religious ground. Justice for Luther is a state of conclusion that prevents further evils to grow in human society. It is an obvious theme for him to discover that the elements of treachery and injustice are dominating human behavior and thus need legal and judicial approaches. It is very appropriate for him to declare that the issues of growth in business and trade domains, are more inclined to treacheries, yet to keep the levels of honesty and faithfulness intake, human being should always try to follow the path of religion and security. Luther was very clear in making the rigid declaration that God is the ultimate Righteos judge and there cannot be any room for injustice in His court. For the establishment of Justice Luther states,
For it must be that among the merchants, as among other people, there are some who belong to Christ and would rather be poor with God than rich with the devil, as says Psalm 37:16, “Better is the little that the righteous hath than the great possessions of the godless.” For their sake, then, we must speak out.
Luther’s approach toward religion has been the core matter of development in understanding justice in human society. Luther’s approach for identifying justice is more theological than being practical. Luther didn’t got into the controversy of believing or non-believing the existence of God; but declared Justice as the instrument that is used by Almighty to create balance in human culture and society.
The issue of Justice dealt in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko and Martin Luther’s On Trade and Usury are very much in reference to analytical perspectives considered by people in general. Both these authors justified the existence of justice as per the demand of the society to which they are referring. For Behn the matters of justice can be contradictory in terms of ages that follow. However for Luther, there is no demand for considering any changes in understands Justice. He is very specific in declaring Justice as an element that is directly dealt by God. Luther’s approach is more theoretical than Behn’s, yet has got relevance on ethical and religious grounds. Behn, on the other hand is very strong in showing the historically followed practical practices in the determination of Justice.
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It can be thus well concluded that the context of Justice is more about gaining appropriate order in the society. On political, social, ethical and legal ground Justice can change its face, yet the acceptability in the current society is what it is always supported to be. Justice thus can be established as per the society and the belief that a community carries within it.