Analysis Of The Poem ' The Darkness Within Men ' By Steve Mcqueen

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12 Years a Slave positions utter beauty between and within scenes of violence and abjection to inspire poignant reflection; frequent tranquil landscapes emphasize gruesome acts and remind us of man’s capability for despicable amorality. Though we often like to sequester slavery to a time and a place no longer existent, it was not 19th century Louisiana that committed these heinous acts but rather the privileged white men who occupied the territory. Louisiana landscapes are and always will be beautiful; it is man that muddies our retrospective visions. Yet, Steve McQueen allows us to breathe for the beauty itself often provides relief from horrific previous scenes; he simply does not create “empty” breaks. We both reflect on the darkness within men and wonder exactly how this beauty affects and/or represents the various characters. The jarring juxtaposition of beauty and abjection inspires psychological introspection for we are never awarded with beauty from subjective points of view (it is presented from anonymous angles). The cotton-picking scenes and the scene in which Solomon rows down the river illustrate the jarring effects beauty and abjection create when presented simultaneously. Both enforce a separation between man and nature and emphasize the heinous through means of polar comparison, yet also tie visual beauty to the retention of hope. Beginning with the cotton picking sequences, Steven McQueen frequently uses a wide far shot and captures the blinding white
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