Feminism in Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Imagine yourself a female slave, living a life of service on a large plantation during the early-19th century. Imagine waking every morning at dawn to begin a never-ending day of cooking, cleaning, washing, and sewing. Imagine being at the beck and call of a master who not only uses you for daily chores, but also for his personal sexual pleasure. Imagine the inexhaustible fear of his next humiliating request and the deep feelings of shame and remorse for your inability to stand up against him. Imagine lying in bed at the end of the day wishing God would carry you to heaven so you would not have to wake and experience this hell on earth all over again.

These illustrations, along with many others, are the types of images Harriet Jacobs
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To begin, Harriett Jacobs carefully formulates a narrative that depicts the lives of slave girls and women as it truly was lived. Rather than conform to the readers' tastes and avoid the horrible gruesome details of the lives of female slaves, Jacobs grasps these events and passionately depicts them to her readers in hopes of some form of compassion. She knows her readers are never going to completely understand what women in slavery went through (it would take living it to comprehend) but she feels to protect them from these truths is only greater blurring the understanding of these issues. Jacobs details her life in hopes that her audience will begin to understand the hardships undertaken by innocent black women in the south and no longer sit quietly by and watch. Jacobs states that slavery is far more appalling for women; "they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own" (825). In order to truly touch her intended audience, she brings up topics that all women, free or enslaved, can understand - adultery, family, love. She hopes that by creating a piece that touches the personal lives of women, she will make it difficult for them not to stand in her shoes, even if just for a moment.

According to Jacobs, women in slavery were things, objects to be used at the desire of their masters. It can be argued that male slaves were objects, too, however, Jacobs focuses on female slaves as objects of lust, of adultery, of sexual

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