Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

L. Monique Pittman


Positioned at the climax of both William Shakespeare’s King Henry V (1600) and Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave (1688) are dynamic calls for battle. While King Henry rallies his forces against the French, Oroonoko—an enslaved African prince—ignites a slave revolt against English colonial masters. This comparative analysis of the speeches’ rhetoric identifies three sets of similar appeals: to martial masculinity, honor as a moral code, and collective political identities. From Behn’s application of Shakespeare’s canonical rhetoric derives commentary on each rhetor’s ability to construct and rhetorize his national identity. Importantly, analysis reveals the impact of racialized difference on the rhetors’ access to structures of political mobilization.

Subject Area

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Henry V; Behn, Aphra, 1640-1689. Oroonoko