American History can be a complex subject to understand; its hard to understand when someone tries to explain a story to you when you weren’t there. Events throughout time would be changed or learned differently if it weren’t for autobiographies. I believe that autobiographies are very important when it comes to American History. Since American History could be very difficult to understand at once, so autobiographies help break down personal story of certain people who lived through their specific time period and tell the story they saw through their own eyes. I believe that American History is so accurate because of autobiographies. Slavery, in my opinion, is the most studied and learned event or time period in American History because people were treated so badly and it was “normal,” it was acceptable. These slaves lived and worked in very harsh conditions. I believe the only reason why we know so much about how bad slaves were treated is because of three autobiographies, Incidents in the Life of a Slave by Harriet Jacob, Autobiography of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, who had a huge impact during the times of slavery, and Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. Because of these three autobiographies historians can accurately explain how bad slavery was.
A very helpful source of the time of slavery was Harriet Ann Jacobs. She is part of the reason on why people know so much about slavery. Her stories tell the harsh conditions the slaves had to work and live in;
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs strongly speaks to its readers by describing the brutalities of slavery and the way slave owners can destroy peaceful lives. After reading and rereading the story have noticed certain things regarding how Jacobs tries to educate her readers and her intended audience which is the women of the North. As if we do not know enough about how terrible slavery is, this story gives detailed examples of the lives of slaves and provokes an incredible amount of emotions. She uses several tactics in her writing to reach her desired audience and does so very well.
Slavery was common in the eighteenth century. Slaves were seen as property, as they were taken from their native land and forced into long hours of labor. The experience was traumatic for both black men and black women. They were physically and mentally abused by slave owners, dehumanized by the system, and ultimately denied their fundamental rights to a favorable American life. Although African men and women were both subjected to the same enslavement, men and women had different experiences in slavery based on their gender. A male perspective can be seen in, My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass. A female perspective is shared in Harriet Jacobs’ narrative titled, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Upon reading both of the viewpoints provided, along with outside research, one can infer that women had it worse.
Harriet Jacobs and Emily Dickinson convey the female experience in very different ways. Dickinson was a white-American poet known for and secluded because of her eccentric nature. Jacobs was an African-American writer enslaved and isolated because of her race and gender. It is easy to see the differences in Dickinson and Jacob’s personal lives, but it is also easy to draw parallels between Dickinson and Jacobs as their work shares a very common theme; the power of silence. While Dickinson suggests that a woman who understands how to use silence can be powerful, Jacobs finds empowerment in silence itself, but what is most interesting is how the two women navigate silence in order to become powerful.
Harriet Jacobs wrote, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” using the pseudonym Linda Brent, and is among the most well-read female slave narratives in American history. Jacobs faces challenges as both a slave and as a mother. She was exposed to discrimination in numerous fronts including race, gender, and intelligence. Jacobs also appeals to the audience about the sexual harassment and abuse she encountered as well as her escape. Her story also presents the effectiveness of her spirit through fighting racism and showing the importance of women in the community.
In the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs argues that her master had an undesirable obsession for her. An obsession she did not want, but could not escape. When Jacobs turned fifteen, life changed drastically; she had gained an unwanted eye of her master. Though her master was afraid to have his inappropriate behaviors and impure thoughts gossiped through town or reported to her grandmother, “he was a crafty man, and resorted to many means to accomplish his purpose” (Jacobs, 52). Despite the fact that Jacobs feared for herself, she felt as if she could not escape her unwanted fate. “My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth the he would compel me to submit to him” (Jacobs, 53). Due to his undying
In these two tales of brutal bondage, Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick Douglass' Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the modern reader can decipher two vastly different experiences from circumstances that were not altogether that dissimilar. Both narratives tell the story of a slave gaining his or her freedom from cruel masters, yes, but that is where the most prominent similarities end. Not only are they factually different, these stories are entirely distinct in their themes.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”- Nelson Mandela. The quote is describing how freedom is not only being out of chains but to be able to be in society with respect from all. Freedom can also mean a lot of different things depending on the person. For example to a teenager freedom could mean them getting out from under their parents supervision or parental control. But, freedom to an adult that works everyday of the week, their freedom can be, not have to work on the weekends, which gives them their freedom to do anything they want to do. In the slave narrative Incidents of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs about her life as a slave, freedom means Linda (aka Harriet Jacobs) being free from slavery, being away from Dr. Flint, and to have her family free with her. She tries to achieve her freedom in many different ways. She confesses to Mrs. Flint about the advances Dr. Flint makes towards her, she falls in with a free black man, and gets pregnant by Mr. Sands. She uses these to achieve her freedom from Dr. Flint’s advances. She also achieves her freedom by running away to her grandmother’s attic, and running away to the North. Linda also achieves her freedom when Dr. Flint had died and when Mrs. Bruce being her savior.
The feminist movement sought to gain rights for women. Many feminist during the early nineteenth century fought for the abolition of slavery around the world. The slave narrative became a powerful feminist tool in the nineteenth century. Black and white women are fictionalized and objectified in the slave narrative. White women are idealized as pure, angelic, and chaste while black woman are idealized as exotic and contained an uncontrollable, savage sexuality. Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl, brought the sexual oppression of captive black women into the public and political arena.
Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl allows Harriet Jacobs, speaking through the narrator, Linda Brent, to reveal her reasons for making public her personal story of enslavement, degradation, and sexual exploitation. Although originally ignored by critics, who often dismissed Jacobs ' story as a fictional account of slavery, today it is reported as the first novel narrative by an ex-slave that reveals the unique brutalities inflicted on enslaved women. Gabby Reyes
During the 1840s, America saw increasingly attractive settlements forming between the North and the South. The government tried to keep the industrial north and the agricultural south happy, but eventually the issue of slavery became too big to handle, no matter how many treaties or compromises were formed. Slavery was a huge issue that unraveled throughout many years of American history and was one of the biggest contributors leading up to the Civil War (notes, Fall 2015). Many books have been written over the years about slavery and the brutality of the life that many people endured. In “A Slave No More”, David Blight tells the story about two men, John M. Washington (1838-1918) and Wallace Turnage (1846-1916), struggling during American slavery. Their escape to freedom happened during America’s bloodiest war among many political conflicts, which had been splitting the country apart for many decades. As Blight (2007) describes, “Throughout the Civil War, in thousands of different circumstances, under changing policies and redefinitions of their status, and in the face of social chaos…four million slaves helped to decide what time it would be in American History” (p. 5). Whether it was freedom from a master or overseer, freedom from living as both property and the object of another person’s will, or even freedom to make their own decisions and control their own life, slaves wanted a sense of independence. According to Blight (2007), “The war and the presence of Union armies
Harriet Jacobs' words in Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl clearly suggests that the life as a slave girl is harsh and unsatisfactory. In this Composition, Jacobs is born a slave, never to be freed. She struggles through life in many instances making life seem impossible. The author's purpose is to state to the people what happened during slavery times in the point of view of a slave. Her life is so harsh that she even hides from her master for 7 years in a cramped space in the top of a shed without any room to walk. The theme of the story is a statement on how slavery was a much harder way of life than many people may have thought. Many people during these times thought that slaves were happy where they were and that their lives
Slaves in 1850 couldn’t do much with their lives. They could stay on their master’s plantation and do all sorts of extremely hard labor, get beaten, and experience what it is like to have family members sold away. Or they could try to escape. When a slave would try to run away he would normally have people sent, by his master, to hunt him down. If the slave was found he would most likely be killed; however, frequently all of the other slaves would have to watch him be executed and then later would be beaten or punished to make sure they would not make the same mistake.
The introductory line of Harriet Jacob’s preface to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, “Reader, be assured this narrative is no fiction”, is short yet serving (Jacobs 224). Although brief in its nature, this statement manages to encompass two major aspects that characterize African-American literature: audience and truth. In all writing, understanding the target audience and how to arrange an argument or essay to appeal to that specific crowd is paramount. However, it is especially important for African-American authors, who typically need to expose injustices or call for social change in their works. In particular, two African-American authors who understood their audience and how to manipulate that understanding were Charles W. Chesnutt and Marcus Garvey. Although they were born only twenty-nine years apart, Chesnutt and Garvey technically wrote for different time periods. While Chesnutt’s work is associated with “Literature of the Reconstruction”, Garvey was grouped with authors and activists from the Harlem Renaissance (Gates and Smith 580 ). The separation of their literary epochs drove Chesnutt and Garvey to write for contradistinctive audiences that demanded unique written techniques and rhetorical strategies, but that both asked for utmost honesty.