In reading Oroonoko by Aphra Behn in comparison to Taming of the Shrew there are some immediate and apparent resemblances. To begin, people are intentionally punished physically. Oroonoko is an African prince who himself trades slaves (Behn 304). Petruchio punished Kate in the way in which someone would an animal when he professed his plans to train her as he would a falcon: “my falcon now is sharp and passing empty and till she stoop, she must not be full-gorged” (Act 4 Scene 1). This type of behavior seems like something a master would do to his animals, not his wife. While Behn does not go into descriptive details initially regarding the torture of slaves, we know that slavery is a horrific and demeaning way to treat people. Both Oroonoko (primarily) and The Taming of the Shrew show human punishment as if there is nothing wrong with it.
Another critical point is that the simple, fair, peaceful women are who are most desired or at least deemed that way by the majority of the societies in which they lived in. Statements such as “Sweet Bianca! Happy man be his dole!” by Hortensio is the typical male reaction to Bianca as opposed to Kate (Shrew Act 1, Scene 1). Imoinda is referred to as a beautiful treasure: “She is adorned with the most graceful modesty that ever beautified youth..” (Behn 323). Neither strong will nor intelligence is discussed as being personality traits of these women, but yet they appear to be the most desirable to men in their societies. What does this say about what the ideal woman?
Furthermore, there are instances in both the Shrew and Oroonoko where characters move down the hierarchy. In the Shrew, Lucentio (who is a master) decides to dress as his own servant, Tranio, in order to act as a teacher of Bianca. Oroonoko allows himself to be taken as a slave even though he is really a prince and insists upon being dressed like one. Is anyone who they really appear to be?