Narratives about captivity have often intrigued readers in Western culture. Mary Rowlandson and Olaudah Equiano’s stories helped pave the way for stereotypes within both European and white culture; teaching Europeans to see Native Americans as cruel and allowing whites to see the evil in the American slave market. In both “A Narrative of the Captivity” and “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” Mary Rowlandson and Olaudah Equiano share their individual stories of being kidnapped and enslaved. Though the two narrators share similarities in their personal accounts of being held captive, either individual’s reaction sheds light on the true purpose of both Rowlandson and Equiano’s writing.
The subject of slavery in the early 1700s had the potential to elicit an array of opinions depending upon the race, gender, and political role of the individual in question. Like the majority of white land-holding men who owned slaves, William Byrd viewed the treatment of Africans as that consistent with livestock: slaves were to do the work they were assigned and give in to every whim of their masters for fear of being severely punished. Olaudah Equiano provides a contrast in opinion to this widely accepted viewpoint. By humanizing Africans and detailing the intimate emotions experienced by them, Equiano implicitly argues against the attitudes of typical slave owners.
Tom Weylin’s sexual assaults on his female slave Tess and selling out her children reflects the miseries of the helpless blacks at the hands of the white population. Though Tess has lost her children, yet she has to comply with the orders and wishes of her white master. (The Fight, X) In addition, Weylin’s consistent whipping on Dana, Tess and Alice also reveals the existence of butchery and domestic violence by the whites. Particularly stripping of the Black women and beating them brutally serve as the black mar on the very face of the white community. (The Fight, XIII) History is also replete with the examples of butchery and cruelties inflicted upon the Black slaves in the USA, northern and central Europe, Russia, Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) and other parts of the world, where sexual exploitations, whipping and torture were the orders of the day. Hence, Butler has portrayed the exact picture of the situation prevailed in the olden past in her novel.
Phillis Wheatley’s, ‘On Being Brought from AFRICA to AMERICA’ is a testament to writing that utilizes irony and satire to produce a salient argument. As Susan Martin, states in her analysis of Wheatley’s poem, “a young woman who sought to assert her views on the passage from freedom to slavery, ignorance to knowledge, darkness to enlightenment” (Martin, 157). In particular, Wheatley’s aim was to construct a piece which addresses the ideals expressed by Martin utilizing irony and satire. Moreover, Wheatley, at the time of writing this poem, was amongst those enslaved. In fact, Wheatley published her first book in 1773. This is a time before America’s independence and most certainly a time where slavery was prominent. This book, which contained numerous poems, proved those enslaved were more intelligent than previously thought. Within Wheatley’s book, her famous poem, ‘On Being Brought from AFRICA to AMERICA’ was read. Read by those who supported slavery and those who opposed it. Typically, Wheatley addresses Christianity and avoids any discussion of race. However, this poem addresses racial issues straight on. On the surface of this poem lies words that when first perceived, appear to support slavery and her deposition from Africa. Moreover, Wheatley utilizes irony and satire to provide a deeper message that speaks out against slavery. More importantly, satire and irony allow two views to form. Through analysis from authors, Levernier, Loving, and Martin, their multiple perspectives can be formed into one. This analysis, will allow a better understanding of Wheatley’s intent with each line and a closer analysis of her clever rhetoric. Furthermore, Wheatley aims to reveal the improper treatment of, “Negros, black as Cain” (Wheatley), while also allowing the poem to be perceived as an appraisal of slavery. Furthermore, Wheatley utilizes each line to provide discussion on different issues regarding slavery in terms of criticizing white Christianity. Furthermore, Wheatley makes her viewpoint of slavery clear; an improper treatment that will not last.
Exploration during the postcolonial era was very popular in footings for people to try and reach out to find ways to set up ground for themselves. In Gilgamesh, the Tempest, and Heart of Darkness, it seems oppression and race played an important factor as to how one coexisted from events that took place to express all that existed during this period. From both good to bad, one feeling strong to weak, or even included or excluded, oppression and race were amongst the many postcolonial lenses that could be viewed from these three pieces of literature. These three stories reveal how racial difference is used to justify oppression during the time of the colonial period.
Throughout history, slaves have been treated like animals and thought of as property, not human beings. Even Oroonoko, a handsome, statuesque prince is turned into a slave because of his race, and is degraded and mistreated. To racist slave owners, the horrible treatment of Africans was acceptable because they were a different species, and no amount of education or beauty could save them. Behn shows how unjust and brutal slavery is in Oroonoko. The treatment of slaves is comparable to the treatment of the poor, as both have few rights, and both are unjustly judged and mistreated based on social status.
The historical fiction novel ‘the longest memory’ set in the 18th century depicts a character ‘Whitechapel’, an elderly slave working at a plantation, in Virginia. Whitechapel, unlike other slaves is treated with more respect from the ‘white’ individuals in the novel and accepts the treatment inflicted on him by the white men, stating that if he acts with respect then receive good treatment. However, towards the ending of the novel it is prevalent that he desires for things to change following the death of his beloved son ‘Chapel’. The black diggers in the play ‘black diggers’ set in 1914 Australia, are similarly treated in an inhumane manner by white men. The black diggers desire for change in this area and therefore enlist to fight for Australian in the first world war. They long that when they will return, the inhumane treatment they received will no longer be, however, they faced further scrutiny by the white Australian society upon their return.
Throughout American history, minority groups were victims of American governmental policies, and these policies made them vulnerable to barbaric and inhumane treatment at the hands of white Americans. American slavery is a telling example of a government sanctioned institution that victimized and oppressed a race of people by indoctrinating and encouraging enslavement, racism and abuse. This institution is injurious to slaves and slave holders alike because American society, especially in the south, underwent a dehumanization process in order to implement the harsh and inhumane doctrine. In the episodic autobiography Narrative of the
Footnote: Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten, eds, Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006), 67.
We also have recorded documentation that corroborates such as the likes of Benjamin Drew, Narratives of An Escaped Slave [Mrs. Nancy Howard] tells her story how she was treated……
My paper is an attempt to analyze the entire era of slavery and its later effects upon the lives of Africans who were brought forcefully to America as slaves and even after its abolition were treated inhumanly. My major attempt is to get an in depth insight of the struggles of these people for their survival in such an environment and the predicament of black women who were doubly oppressed; were the victims of both the whites and black men; and treated as naked savages and beasts, with Alice Walker’ masterpiece and Pulitzer prize winning The Color Purple. I have taken this project with my keen interest because the novel touched me deeply and I wanted to analyze it thoroughly.
Slavery is a contradictory subject in American history because “one hears…of the staid and gentle patriarchy, the wide and sleepy plantations with lord and retainers, ease and happiness; [while] on the other hand on hears of barbarous cruelty and unbridles power and wide oppression of men” (Dubois 2). Dubois’s The Negro in the United States is an autoethnographic text which is a representation “that the so-defined others
Early American Literature reflects many conflicting differences in the presentation of slavery during that time period. Through the two chosen texts, the reader is presented with two different perspectives of slavery; Frederick Douglass’s narrative provides a look at a slave’s life through the eyes if a slave while Benito Cereno showcases the tale of a slave uprising from the viewpoint of the slave owner.. Benito Cereno’s work shows the stereotypical attitude towards African-American slaves and the immorality of that outlook according to Douglass’s narrative. Cereno portrays the typical white slave owner of his time, while Douglass’ narrative shows the thoughts of the slaves. The two stories together show that white Americans are oblivious to the ramifications and overall effects of slavery. These texts assist a moralistic purpose in trying to open up America’s eyes to the true nature of slavery by revealing it’s inhumanity and depicting the cruelty that was allowed.
Schiff’s article specifies on Butler’s use of fiction to expand the portrayal of slavery in order to give the audience a new perspective on colonialism from the oppressed view of Dana. Therefore, Schiff argues that Butler utilizes the expressive freedom of fictional ideas such as time travel to reveal the extent and harshness of slavery. Parallel to Schiff’s argument, Thelma Shinn Richard’s “Defining Kindred: Octavia Butler 's Postcolonial Perspective” underscores Butler’s ability to utilize the postcolonial perspective of an African-American woman to expose the reality of slavery. Richard argues that our current perspective is limited as we have not witnessed the extent of colonial racism, but have simply been educated from a historical standpoint. Richard’s article combines the focuses of both the other articles as she aims to educate her audience on the cruelty of slavery from the empowering perspective of a female slave in a society fueled by white patriarchy. Altogether, the articles aim to analyze Butler’s use of perspective and literary techniques in order to reveal the repressive extent of slavery in the past.
Prior to the publication of any slave narrative, African Americans had been represented by early historians’ interpretations of their race, culture, and situation along with contemporary authors’ fictionalized depictions. Their persona was often “characterized as infantile, incompetent, and...incapable of achievement” (Hunter-Willis 11) while the actions of slaveholders were justified with the arguments that slavery would maintain a cheap labor force and a guarantee that their suffering did not differ to the toils of the rest of the “struggling world” (Hunter-Willis 12). The emergence of the slave narratives created a new voice that discredited all former allegations of inferiority and produced a new perception of resilience and ingenuity.