The Narrative Of The 1853 Slave Narrative By Solomon Northup

1666 WordsOct 4, 20177 Pages
Steve McQueen’s award-winning historical drama, 12 Years A Slave, has been glorified for it’s very realistic adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative by Solomon Northup. The film takes place in antebellum United States and it is told through the perspective of Northup, a free black man from New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery. In New Orleans he is given the name Platt and sold to plantation owner, William Ford. He is then sold to another plantation owner, Edwin Epps. Throughout his 12 years as a slave he struggles with surviving, yet holding on to any remnants of his dignity. On Epps’s plantation he meets an anti-slavery Canadian laborer named Samuel Bass who Northup ends up trusting with the task of sending a letter up north to…show more content…
The message McQueen is presenting within slavery is that it was horrendous far beyond what our imaginations could ever muster. The supremely explicit scenes make the audience uncomfortable not just because of the visual portrayal but also because we as an American society try our hardest to forget and turn a blind eye to our dark foundations and this film constantly reminds us of it and it’s specific atrocities. Another message unique to this slave film is that being an educated Black person in the North didn’t save you from being enslaved. The shock factor on top of all of the other graphic scenes is that Northup was born free. That is what separates this narrative from other slave narratives. He was kidnapped and illegally sold into slavery. McQueen makes it a point to emphasize that it didn’t matter how much proof Northup could muster up and how easily it would be to verify that he was a free Black man, because he was Black everyone just assumed or easily accepted he was a slave. Even when a sheriff and a northern shoemaker, Mr. Parker, come to take Northup back home, Epps adamantly protests and tries to prevent him from leaving. It didn’t matter if a Black person was educated and born free, they would be stripped of their identity and sold under a new one. Critics and historians alike raved and praised McQueen’s depiction of slavery in 12
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