1,900 Matching Annotations
  1. Jul 2019
    1. a whig or a tory

      two major political parties in Swift's time

    2. for as I happened to lie on my back, I found my arms and legs were strongly fastened on each side to the ground; and my hair, which was long and thick, tied down in the same manner. I likewise felt several slender ligatures across my body, from my arm-pits to my thighs. I could only look upwards, the sun began to grow hot, and the light offended my eyes.

    3. Presently two rats crept up the curtains, and ran smelling backwards and forwards on my bed. One of them came almost up to my face; whereupon I rose in a fright, and drew out my hanger to defend myself. The horrible animals had the boldness to attack me both sides, and one of them held his forefeet at my collar; but I killed him before he could do me any mischief.

    4. The mother out of pure indulgence took me up, and put me towards the child, who presently seized me by the middle and got my head in its mouth, where I roared so loud that the urchin was frighted, and let me drop, and I should infallibly have broke my neck if the mother had not held her apron under me. The nurse, to quiet her babe, made use of a rattle, which was a kind of hollow vessel filled with great stones, and fastened by a cable to the child’s waist.

    5. But advancing forwards towards my master (as I shall henceforth call him), his youngest son, who sat next him, an arch boy of about ten years old, took me up by the legs, and held me so high in the air, that I trembled in every limb; but his father snatched me from him, and at the same time gave him such a box in the left ear as would have felled an European troop of horse to the earth, ordering him to be taken from the table. But being afraid the boy might owe me a spite, and well remembering how mischievous all children among us naturally are to sparrows, rabbits, young kittens, and puppy dogs, I fell on my knees, and, pointing to the boy, made my master to understand as well as I could, that I desired his son might be pardoned. The father complied, and the lad took his seat again; whereupon I went to him and kissed his hand, which my master took, and made him stroke me gently with it.

    6. I had three hundred cooks to dress my victuals, in little convenient huts built about my house, where they and their families lived, and prepared me two dishes a-piece. I took up twenty waiters in my hand, and placed them on the table; an hundred more attended below on the ground, some with dishes of meat, and some with barrels of wine and other liquors, flung on their shoulders; all of which the waiters above drew up, as I wanted, in a very ingenious manner, by certain cords, as we draw the bucket up a well in Europe.

    7. The seamen threw me the end of the cord, which I fastened to a hole in the forepart of the boat, and the other end to a man-of-war. But I found all my labor to little purpose; for, being out of my depth, I was not able to work. In this necessity, I was forced to swim behind, and push the boat forwards as often as I could with one of my hands, and, the tide favoring me, I advanced so far, that I could just hold up my chin and feel the ground.

    8. The emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates, advancing one by one, sometimes leap over the stick, sometimes creep under it, backwards and forwards several times, according as the stick is advanced or depressed. Sometimes the emperor holds one end of the stick, and his first minister the other: sometimes the minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs his part with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-colored silk; the yellow is given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twice about the middle; and you see few great persons round about this court who are not adorned with one of these girdles.

    9. Phaeton

      a son of Apollo who was dashed into the river Endanus for his foolhardiness in attempting to drive the steeds of the sun for one day.

    10. thrifty


    11. .

      I really appreciate Swift's wit and imagination which make this novel so thought-provoking and fascinating. I also like how he makes use of satire to explore the political and socioeconomic issues affecting the English people in his time. After reading this novel, I have a strong desire to study about the political history of England, which I am not totally familiar of, and I believe that would help me understand this novel better. Overall this is a complex story which deals with various themes such as morality and ethics, society and class, and gender issues. It is a combination of political satire and adventure; on the surface, it seems easy to understand, but actually it is not.

    12. trencher

      a wooden plate or platter

    13. infallibly

      incapable of error

    14. a dish of about four-and-twenty feet diameter

      I like all the detailed measurements described in this novel!

    15. diminutive

      one that is notably small

    16. I lamented my own folly and wilfulness in attempting a second voyage against the advice of all my friends and relations.

      He curses his own stupidity and recklessness in trying a second voyage against all the advice of his friends and relations.

    17. I screamed as loud as fear could make me. Whereupon the huge creature trod short

      He screams with the strength of fear, which makes the huge creature break stride.

    18. insatiable

      incapable of being satisfied

    19. six hundred

      I noticed that Swift likes to use this number a lot. Wonder if there's any specific reason for this.

    20. The chains that held my left leg were about two yards long, and gave me not only the liberty of walking backwards and forwards in a semi-circle, but, being fixed within four inches of the gate, allowed me to creep in, and lie at my full length in the temple.

      The chains allow him to move immediately around the gate to his temple, so he can lie down inside the building or stand up outside of it.

    21. On each side of the gate was a small window, not above six inches from the ground; into that on the left side the king’s smith conveyed four score and eleven chains, like those that hang to a lady’s watch in Europe, and almost as large, which were locked to my left leg with six-and-thirty padlocks

      He's kept tied down to the ground as the tiny people build him a set of chains.

    22. one of them, an officer in the guards, put the sharp end of his half-pike[11] a good way up into my left nostril, which tickled my nose like a straw, and made me sneeze violently; whereupon they stole off

      He wakes up after four hours because one of his guards climbs onto his face and sticks his spear up his left nostril, making him sneeze violently, and the guards sneak off. This is comical!

    23. I lay in a profound sleep

      He falls asleep again haha

    24. the first words I learnt were to express my desire that he would please give me my liberty, which I every day repeated on my knees.

      The first words he learns from the emperor are to ask the emperor to set him free, which he begs him every day on his knees.

    25. they were passing backwards and forwards on my body

      It's interesting that these tiny people seem totally fine with climbing onto his body and walking around even though he's a giant to them.

    26. hogsheads

      Guess which size of hogsheads they are using?

    27. My little friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your country; you have clearly proved that ignorance, idleness, and vice are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them.

    28. He laughed at my odd kind of arithmetic (as he was pleased to call it), in reckoning the numbers of our people by a computation drawn from the several sects among us, in religion and politics. He said, he knew no reason why those who entertain opinions prejudicial to the public should be obliged to change, or should not be obliged to conceal them. And as it was tyranny in any government to require the first, so it was weakness not to enforce the second: for a man may be allowed to keep poisons in his closet, but not to vend them about for cordials.

    29. I banged it a good while with one of my sculls, and at last forced it to leap out of the boat.

    30. The horrible animals had the boldness to attack me both sides, and one of them held his forefeet at my collar; but I killed him before he could do me any mischief.

    31. Here I walked on for some time, but could see little on either side, it being now near harvest, and the corn rising at least forty feet. I was an hour walking to the end of this field, which was fenced in with a hedge of at least one hundred and twenty feet high, and the trees so lofty that I could make no computation of their altitude.

    32. I drew out my hanger, and flourished with it, after the manner of fencers in England

    33. My mistress had a daughter of nine years old, a child of toward parts for her age, very dexterous at her needle, and skilful in dressing her baby.

    34. but this gracious princess held out her little finger towards me, after I was set on a table, which I embraced in both my arms, and put the tip of it with the utmost respect to my lip.

    35. They found by my eating that a small quantity would not suffice me

      This scene would be hilarious on screen. Imagine how tiny the food is.

    36. I could not forbear showing my impatience (perhaps against the strict rules of decency) by putting my finger frequently to my mouth, to signify that I wanted food

      He must be hungry to death.

    37. They supplied me as they could, showing a thousand marks of wonder and astonishment at my bulk and appetite

      The tiny people are amazed at how much Gulliver can eat lol

    38. daubed



      Lemuel Gulliver in Lilliput


      Gulliver in Brobdingnag

    41. extenuate


    42. impeachment


    43. verbal license

      verbal permission

    44. magistrate

      an official entrusted with administration of the laws

    45. That all true believers break their eggs at the convenient end.

      kind of like a religious doctrine

    46. Blundecral

      their holy book

    47. obstinate

      not easily subdued, remedied, or removed

    48. intestine disquiets

      internal struggles

    49. animosities

      a strong feeling of dislike or hatred

    50. the high and low heels of their shoes

      High heels: symbolic of the English Tories; low heels: symbolic of the English Whigs

    51. Tolgo phonac

      It is an order to attack or fire arrows; "Let go! Vomit!"

    52. conjectured


    53. Van Diemen’s Land

      Tasmania in Australia

    54. I accepted an advantageous offer from Captain William Prichard, master of the “Antelope,”

      Captain William Prichard offering Gulliver the opportunity to board the Antelope.

    55. hosier

      One who deals in hose (stockings and socks), or in goods knitted or woven like hose, such as undergarments, jerseys, cardigans, and the like.

    56. Captain Abraham Pannell

      Gulliver's first employer

    57. Mrs. Mary Burton

      It was formerly the custom to call unmarried women Mrs.

    58. schisms

      formal division in or separation from a church or religious body

    59. It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs, before we eat them, was upon the larger end; but his present majesty’s grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the emperor, his father, published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs.

      Traditionally, Lilliputians broke boiled eggs on the larger end; a few generations ago, an Emperor of Lilliput, the present emperor's great-grandfather, had decreed that all eggs be broken on the smaller end after his son cut himself breaking the egg on the larger end.

    60. Lilliput and Blefuscu

      are two fictional island nations neighboring in the South Indian Ocean, separated by a channel 800 yards wide.

      Map of Lilliput and Blefuscu showing the location in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sumatra:

    61. pulling

      plucking and drawing, preparatory to cooking

    62. meaner

      of lower rank

    63. portion

      the part of an estate given to a child

    64. domestic

      the household and all pertaining thereto

    65. exchequer bills

      bills of credit issued from the exchequer by authority of parliament, for example, this is a 1709 Bank Of England Exchequer Bill:

    66. cabal

      a body of men united for some sinister purpose

    67. lee side

      side sheltered from the wind

    68. ancient

      flag, corrupted from ensign

    69. Downs

      A famous natural roadstead off the southeast coast of Kent, between Goodwin Sands and the mainland, south of the Thames entrance

    70. Black Bull

      inns in England are often named after animals with an adjective descriptive of the color of the sign; as, The Golden Lion, The White Horse.

    71. towardly

      apt, docile

    72. Straits of Madagascar

      Mozambique Channel

    73. the line

      the equator

    74. hinds

      peasants; rustics

    75. pistoles

      about three dollars and sixty cents

    76. discovering


    77. from London Bridge to Chelsea

      about three miles as the birds fly

    78. pillion

      a cushion for a woman to ride on behind a person on horseback. From London to St. Alban's: about twenty miles

    79. pumpion


    80. parts


    81. Sanson’s Atlas

      a very large atlas by a French geographer in use in Swift's time

    82. as good a hand of me

      as much money of me

    83. moidores

      a Portuguese gold piece worth about six dollars

    84. guineas

      an obsolete English gold coin, of the value of five dollars

      Here's a five Guinea coin, James II, Great Britain, 1688:

    85. phoenix

      a bird of fable said to live for a long time and rise anew from its own ashes

    86. cabinet

      a private room

    87. scrutoire

      a writing-desk

    88. waiting

      attendance on the king

    89. lusus naturae

      a freak of nature

    90. Royal Sovereign

      one of the great ships of Swift's time

    91. Dunstable lark

      large larks are caught on the downs near Dunstable between September and February, and sent to London for luxurious tables

    92. drones

      the largest tube of a bag-pipe, giving forth a dull heavy tone

    93. Gresham College

      Gresham College is named after the founder, an English merchant, who died in 1580.

      Gresham College, engraving by George Vertue, 1740:

    94. Salisbury steeple

      this is about four hundred feet high

    95. battalia

      the order of battle

    96. espalier

      a lattice upon which fruit-trees or shrubs are trained

    97. sculls

      short oars

    98. starboard[70] or larboard

      right or left

    99. corking-pin

      a larger-sized pin

    100. stomacher

      a broad belt

    101. varlet


    102. levee

      a ceremonious visit received by a distinguished person in the morning

    103. spinet

      a stringed instrument, a forerunner of out piano

    104. closet

      private room

    105. signal


    106. chancery

      a high court of equity

    107. glossing


    108. Dionysius Halicarnassensis

      Dionysius Halicarnassensis was born about the middle of the first century, B.C.; he endeavored in his history to relieve his Greek countrymen from the mortification they had felt in their subjection to the Romans, and patched up an old legend about Rome being of Greek origin and therefore their "political mother."

    109. ideas, entities, abstractions, and transcendentals

      words used in that philosophy which deals with thinking, existence, and things beyond the senses

    110. mercurial

      active, spirited

    111. composition

      compact, agreement

    112. PROGRESS

      an old term for the travelling of the sovereign to different parts of his country

    113. tumbrel

      a rough cart

    114. page

      a serving-boy, and especially one who waits on a person of rank

    115. quarry


    116. squash

      shock, concussion

    117. to rights


    118. to make

      to get alongside

    119. junto

      a body of men secretly united to gain some political end

    120. puissant


    121. discompose


    122. embargo

      an order not to sail

    123. Alcoran

      the Koran or Mohammedan Bible

    124. skirts


    125. quadrant

      an instrument long used for measuring altitudes

    126. trencher

      a wooden plate or platter

    127. a pocket perspective

      a small spy-glass or telescope

    128. lucid

      shining; transparent

    129. Imprimis

      in the first place

    130. fobs

      small pockets in the waistband of trousers to receive a watch.

    131. Lingua Franca

      a language—Italian mixed with Arabic, Greek, and Turkish—used by Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Italians trading with Arabs, Turks, and Greeks. It is the commercial language of Constantinople.

    132. crest

      a decoration to denote rank

    133. chairs

      a sedan chair is here meant. It held one person, and was carried by two men by means of projecting poles.

    134. stang

      an old word for a perch, sixteen feet and a half, also for a rood of ground

    135. half-pike

      a short wooden staff, upon one end of which was a steel head

    136. signet-royal

      the king's seal

    137. buff jerkin

      a leather jacket or waistcoat

    138. a cable’s length

      about six hundred or seven hundred feet

    139. South Sea

      the Pacific Ocean

    140. Levant,

      The point where the sun rises. The countries about the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and its adjoining waters.

    141. Redriff

      then a Thames side village, now part of London

    142. scanty


    143. Emmanuel College in Cambridge

    144. Jonathan Swift

      Three fun facts about Jonathan Swift: 1) The female name “Vanessa” was invented by Jonathan Swift for his lover Esther Vanhomrigh. 2) The Oxford English Dictionary lists Swift as the first person to use the word “cowboy.” 3) In Gulliver’s Travels, he predicted the existence of the two major moons of Mars and used Kepler’s Theorem to calculate their orbital periods.

    145. Gulliver’s Travels 

      Fun fact: Gulliver’s Travels was a huge bestseller in its day - 10,000 copies were sold in the first three weeks.

      First edition of Gulliver's Travels:

    1. He found his brains turned round, and his eyes were dizzy, and objects appeared not the same to him they were wont to do; his breath was short, and all his limbs surprised with a faintness he had never felt before. He had not eat in two days, which was one occasion of his feebleness, but excess of grief was the greatest, yet still he hoped he should never recover vigor to act his design, and lay expecting it yet six days longer;

      He is slowly weakened by hunger, thirst, and most of all, grief.

    2. He had learned to take tobacco; and when he was assured he should die, he desired they would give him a pipe in his mouth, ready lighted; which they did. And the executioner came, and first cut off his members, and threw them into the fire; after that, with an ill-favored knife, they cut off his ears and his nose and burned them; he still smoked on, as if nothing had touched him; then they hacked off one of his arms, and still he bore up, and held his pipe; but at the cutting off the other arm, his head sunk, and his pipe dropped, and he gave up the ghost, without a groan or a reproach.

      Personally I really don't like this ending, but if this is based on true events, I have (and the author has) no say.

    3. Colonel Martin

      A dear friend of Oroonoko

    4. “And why,” said he, “my dear friends and fellow-sufferers, should we be slaves to an unknown people? Have they vanquished us nobly in fight? Have they won us in honorable battle? And are we by the chance of war become their slaves? This would not anger a noble heart; this would not animate a soldiers soul: no, but we are bought and sold like apes or monkeys, to be the sport of women, fools, and cowards; and the support of rogues and runagates, that have abandoned their own countries for rapine, murders, theft, and villainies. Do you not hear every day how they upbraid each other with infamy of life, below the wildest savages? And shall we render obedience to such a degenerate race, who have no one human virtue left, to distinguish them from the vilest creatures? Will you, I say, suffer the lash from such hands?”

      Apparently the fearful women and their husbands are what Caesar referred to as “degenerates” -- those who would rather live as slaves than die in the pursuit of freedom.

    5. indignation

      anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean

    6. Tis a continent whose vast extent was never yet known, and may contain more noble earth than all the universe beside; for, they say, it reaches from east to west one way as far as China, and another to Peru: it affords all things both for beauty and use; ’tis there eternal spring, always the very months of April, May, and June; the shades are perpetual, the trees bearing at once all degrees of leaves and fruit, from blooming buds to ripe autumn: groves of oranges, lemons, citrons, figs, nutmegs, and noble aromatics continually bearing their fragrancies. The trees appearing all like nosegays adorned with flowers of different kinds; some are all white, some purple, some scarlet, some blue, some yellow; bearing at the same time ripe fruit, and blooming young, or producing every day new. The very wood of all these trees has an intrinsic value above common timber; for they are, when cut, of different colors, glorious to behold, and bear a price considerable, to inlay withal. Besides this, they yield rich balm and gums; so that we make our candles of such an aromatic substance as does not only give a sufficient light, but, as they burn, they cast their perfumes all about. Cedar is the common firing, and all the houses are built with it.

      Documentary style of writing adds authenticity to the story.

    7. This care was for some time taken, and Caesar looked upon it as a mark of extraordinary respect, and was glad his discontent had obliged ’em to be more observant to him

      Caesar doesn’t realize he’s being watched, but instead thinks that colonists are showing him increased respect, particularly as more gentlemen come to pay him visits.

    8. these conversations failed not altogether so well to divert him that he liked the company of us women much above the men, for he could not drink, and he is but an ill companion in that country that cannot. So that obliging him to love us very well, we had all the liberty of speech with him, especially myself, whom he called his Great Mistress; and indeed my word would go a great way with him.

      Through these conversations, the narrator gets to know Caesar much better.

    9. I entertained them with the loves of the Romans, and great me, which charmed him to my company; and her, with teaching her all the pretty works that I was mistress of, and telling her stories of nuns

      All these details make readers believe this is a true story.

    10. Caesar liked that the worst, and would never be reconciled to our notions of the Trinity, of which he ever made a jest

      Caesar may like learning about Western culture, but he is not ready to surrender to a Western religion.

    11. One may imagine then we paid her a treble respect; and though from her being carved in fine flowers and birds all over her body, we took her to be of quality before, yet when we knew Clemene was Imoinda, we could not enough admire her.

      The colonists have been respecting Imoinda for being beautiful and virtuous, but now they admire her even more as they know she is Caesar’s beloved.

    12. There needed no long gazing, or consideration, to examine who this fair creature was; he soon saw Imoinda all over her; in a minute he saw her face, her shape, her air, her modesty, and all that called forth his soul with joy at his eyes, and left his body destitute of almost life: it stood without motion, and for a minute knew not that it had a being; and, I believe, he had never come to himself, so oppressed he was with over-joy, if he had not met with this allay, that he perceived Imoinda fall dead in the hands of Trefry. This awakened him, and he ran to her aid, and caught her in his arms, where by degrees she came to herself; and ’tis needless to tell with what transports, what ecstasies of joy, they both a while beheld each other, without speaking; then snatched each other to their arms; then gazed again, as if they still doubted whether they possessed the blessing they grasped: but when they recovered their speech, ’tis not to be imagined what tender things they expressed to each other; wondering what strange fate had brought them again together

      Two long sentences here - readers are breathless to dive into the moment the lovers meet again.

    13. recompense

      to give something to by way of compensation

    14. perfidious

      being faithless or disloyal

    15. condoling

      to express sympathetic sorrow

    16. bemoaned

      to express deep grief or distress over

    17. maxims

      a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct

    18. abhorrence

      something regarded as repugnant or disgusting

    19. scruple

      an ethical consideration or principle that inhibits action

    20. vanquished

      overcome or defeated in battle or in a conflict or contest

    21. mien


    22. he nimbly leaped into the boat, and showing no more concern, suffered himself to be rowed up the river, with his seventeen companions.

      Oroonoko surrenders to his new and unknown future.

    23. Oroonoko was first seized on, and sold to our overseer, who had the first lot, with seventeen more of all sorts and sizes, but not one of quality with him.

      Trefry buys the first lot, which contains Oroonoko and 17 more slaves.

    24. The captain pondering and consulting what to do, it was concluded that nothing but Oroonoko’s liberty would encourage any of the rest to eat, except the Frenchman, whom the captain could not pretend to keep prisoner, but only told him he was secured because he might act something in favor of the prince, but that he should be freed as soon as they came to land. So that they concluded it wholly necessary to free the prince from his irons, that he might show himself to the rest; that they might have an eye upon him, and that they could not fear a single man.

      The Captain uses Oroonoko as bait to keep the other slaves healthy because he knows that Oroonoko has complete authority over his men, just as the Captain now has authority over Oroonoko.

    25. ignominiously

      shamefully; dishonorably

    26. But punishments hereafter are suffered by one’s self; and the world takes no cognizance whether this God have revenged ’em, or not, ’tis done so secretly, and deferred so long: while the man of no honor suffers every moment the scorn and contempt of the honester world, and dies every day ignominiously in his fame, which is more valuable than life. I speak not this to move belief, but to show you how you mistake, when you imagine that he who will violate his honor will keep his word with his gods.

      Oroonoko's belief resembles the Christian notion of the afterlife, that there is a place of paradise for good people and eternal torment for bad people.

    27. Oroonoko replied, he would engage his honor to behave himself in all friendly order and manner, and obey the command of the captain, as he was lord of the king’s vessel and general of those men under his command.

      Oroonoko makes another promise that he will be friendly and obey the Captain if he can be released from his chains.

    28. Oroonoko, whose honor was such as he never had violated a word in his life himself, much less a solemn asseveration, believed in an instant what this man said; but replied, he expected, for a confirmation of this, to have his shameful fetters dismissed.

      The Captain knows that Oroonoko is a man of honor and would never break a promise.

    29. .

      This is a very intriguing story with lots of twists and turns - never predictable. It is an anti-slavery classic and the protagonist Oroonoko is the hero throughout the story. He is a typical heroic figure in everything but his skin color. Behn cleverly uses Oroonoko's status as a prince in the beginning to contrast with his unfortunate situation as a slave. If he were not a prince, then perhaps the story would not be so fascinating.

    30. indignation

      anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean

    31. Some have commended this act, as brave in the captain; but I will spare my sense of it, and leave it to my reader to judge as he pleases.

      The narrator notes that some readers might consider the Captain’s act “brave,” but she leaves out her opinion, letting her reader “judge as he pleases.”

    32. Oroonoko was extremely delighted

      Oroonoko's interest in learning about the West might influence his decision to accept the invitation to tour the slave ship.

    33. This captain therefore was always better received at court than most of the traders to those countries were

      The Captain is welcomed at the Coramantien court and treated like a royal guest.

    34. Oroonoko choosing rather to remain a while there in his tents than to enter into a palace or live in a court where he had so lately suffered so great a loss.

      Oroonoko is avoiding his memories of Imoinda by staying in the camp.

    35. Jamoan

      The leader of the opposing army that besieges Oroonoko’s troops.

    36. there was no account of revenge to be adjusted between them: if there were, ’twas he was the aggressor, and that death would be just, and, maugre his age, would see him righted

      Oroonoko promises not to seek revenge, because death will be coming for the King soon anyway, thus serving a quicker justice than Oroonoko could.

    37. nor would he resign her to his grandson, because she had received the royal veil

      The King can't simply give Imoinda back to Oroonoko, because she was given the royal veil.

    38. Onahal, who was also prostrate with her, could testify: that, unknown to her, he had broke into her apartment, and ravished her.

      Onahal lies and says that Oroonoko broke in and raped Imoinda.

    39. ’Tis not to be imagined the satisfaction of these two young lovers; nor the vows she made him, that she remained a spotless maid till that night, and that what she did with his grandfather had robbed him of no part of her virgin-honor; the gods, in mercy and justice, having reserved that for her plighted lord, to whom of right it belonged.

      Despite spending many nights with the King, Imoinda is still a virgin. The narrator implies that this is possible because the king is unable to “perform.”

    40. contrived

      having an unnatural or false appearance or quality

    41. The prince was every moment more charmed with the new beauties and graces he beheld in this fair one

      Of course Oroonoko watches only Imoinda.

    42. Onahal (a former old wife of the king’s, who now had charge of Imoinda),

      Onahal's beauty has long since faded, and she is now sort of a head housekeeper of the Otan.

    43. Aboan, a young man who was next to him

      Aboan is basically Oroonoko’s “wingman.”

    44. She gave him cordials, but all in vain

      Cordials won’t help; only getting Imoinda back would completely heal him.

    45. deplorable

      dreadful and unacceptable

    46. this powerful language alone that in an instant conveyed all the thoughts of their souls to each other; that they both found there wanted but opportunity to make them both entirely happy

      They speak through their eyes. What a romantic way to communicate with your beloved when you can't really speak!

    47. Imoinda, who saw with some joy the change in the prince’s face, and found it in her own, strove to divert the king from beholding either, by a forced caress, with which she met him; which was a new wound in the heart of the poor dying prince.

      Imoinda is happy to see Oroonoko is in such pain, because now she knows that he still loves her.

    48. “A negro can change color”

      It is indeed possible for black people to blush. The narrator adds a sense of humor here.

    49. And I have observed

      The narrator is trying to justify her story with her own eyewitness account.

    50. as soon as he entered, one day, into the apartment of Imoinda, with the king, at the first glance from her eyes, notwithstanding all his determined resolution, he was ready to sink in the place where he stood

      Despite being able to fool the King, when Oroonoko sees Imoinda for the first time since she’s been taken away, he blushes deeply and almost faints.

    51. e showed a face not at all betraying his heart: so that in a little time, the old man, being entirely convinced that he was no longer a lover of Imoinda, he carried him with him, in his train, to the otan, often to banquet with his mistresses.

      Oroonoko convinces the King that he is no longer in love with Imoinda. Eventually Oroonoko is invited to the Otan to dine.

    52. her heart was bursting within, and she was only happy when she could get alone, to vent her griefs and moans with sighs and tears.

      Imoinda only feels when she is alone, because she's able to fully express her sadness about being separated from Oroonoko. How sad!

    53. he many times inquired how the prince bore himself: and those of whom he asked, being entirely slaves to the merits and virtues of the prince, still answered what they thought conduced best to his service; which was, to make the old king fancy that the prince had no more interest in Imoinda, and had resigned her willingly to the pleasure of the king; that he diverted himself with his mathematicians, his fortifications, his officers, and his hunting.

      Oroonoko’s friends all lie and tell the King what he wants to hear: Oroonoko has gotten over Imoinda and fills his time studying, hunting, and training his army. Because of this, the King’ sense of triumph grows.

    54. condescension

      patronizing attitude; superiority

    55. agonies

      great pain