Harriet Jacob 's Slave Narrative Essay

1271 WordsOct 7, 20166 Pages
In the 19th century, The Cult of Domesticity governed women’s actions. The ideology claimed that women were naturally designed for tasks within the home and advised a conservative agenda for female social behavior. The restrictive image of true womanhood was enforced by men in the lives of all women – free or enslaved, black or white. Embodying piety, purity, domesticity and submissiveness was the only socially acceptable way for women to exist in society. This is why Harriet Jacobs made many of choices she did when recounting her life story in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Like Olaudah Equiano, Fredrick Douglass, and many others, Jacobs’ narrative was criticized by literary critics of past and present. Yet Harriet Jacob’s slave narrative was challenged more than slave narratives written by others because she does not adhere to the idea of true womanhood. Though criticism and controversy surrounded Equiano and Douglass’s narratives, Jacobs’ narrative was the target of particular misunderstanding by scholars. Incidents is unlike other slave narratives – the main character knew who her parents were, there were no obstacles to her literacy, and she successfully escaped slavery on her first attempt. The escape story, which involves Jacobs living in a small attic for seven years and having misleading letters sent to her master, is outrageous in itself. Additionally, the most glaring aspect of Incidents is the fact that none of the characters existed by the names that
Open Document