A young English woman, the narrator with no name, lives on Parham Plantation awaiting transportation back to England. She is the daughter of the new governor, who unfortunately died during the family's voyage to take up his new post. During her wait, she has the opportunity to meet and becomes friend with prince Oroonoko and his lovely wife, Imoinda. The narrator talks about the colony and the inhabitants, presenting first a list of birds, insects, flora, fauna, and then an almost anthropological account of the natives with whom the British trade and who seem to the narrator to be as innocent as Adam and Eve in "the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin."
After her overview of Surinam, the narrator changes the way of telling the story in other words the setting, where the protagonist Oroonoko is about to meet Imoinda, the daughter of the general who has just died saving Oroonoko's life. The king of Coramantien, who is the 100 year old grandfather of Oroonoko, has also fallen in love with the young and beautiful girl and has beaten Oroonoko to the punch by sending her the royal veil, a gift Imoinda can’t refuse, and which signifies that she is now the wife of the king. She will spend the rest of her days locked and only the king can visit her. Oroonoko, breaks in where they had her locked up with the help of his good friend Aboan, who keeps one of the king's senior wives named Onahal occupied with lovemaking. The king catches him, and Oroonoko flees. Although Imoinda is sold into slavery, the king later informs Oroonoko that she has been put to death.
Meanwhile, the British arrive in Coramantien to trade for the war captives whom Oroonoko sells as slaves. The captain invites the prince and his friends to board his boat as his guest, but surprises them and takes them captive. Soon after he promises Oroonoko his freedom, when he and his friends refuse to eat, but he fails to keep this