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Realism and Credibility in Moll Flanders and Oroonoko In the Dictionary of Literary Terms Harry Shaw states In effective narrative literature fictional persons through characterization become so credible that they exist for the reader as real people Looking at Daniel Defoes Moll Flanders and Aphra Behns Oroonoko the reader will find it difficult to make this definition conform to Moll and Behns narrator This doesnt mean that Defoes and Behns work is ineffective but there is indeed a difficulty it is the claim of truth Defoe in his preface states The Author is here supposd to be writing her own History Defoe 1 and Behn claims I was myself an eye-witness to a great part of what you will find here set down and what I could not be witness of I received from the mouth of the chief actor in this history the hero himself Behn 75 Although both authors claim their stories are true and thereby that their characters are realistic there seems to be a gap between the authors claims and the reality of the characterization This question is closely connected to the fact that both novels belong to the earliest English novels There was no fixed tradition that the authors worked in instead the novel was in the process of being established The question arises whether the two works lack a certain roundness in their narrators In Aphra Behns work there is both a rejection and an acceptance of traditional plots the Surinam episodes are far from established plots The story is innovative for example inasmuch as the hero is black and enslaved Behn actually was among the first to contribute to the image of the noble savage in literature seventy years before Rousseau did It is now commonly accepted that Behn probably experienced this part of the plot herself The first part which takes place in Africa on the other hand is very traditional it follows patterns of
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