Depiction Of Social Struggles Of Slaves In The Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl And The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The abolishment movement was the social push to end slavery and racial discrimination. Slave Narratives are firsthand documents and accounts of African Americans who experienced chattel slavery, essentially these accounts played a central role in the abolitionist movement. Throughout the many years of the ‘peculiar institution’ various slaves wrote records of their lives. Individuals like Harriet Jacobs and Olaudah Equiano persuaded others in their causes including racism, love, power, sexism and the black communities by writing slave narratives. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African Written by Olaudah Equiano tells his journey about slavery when he was only eleven, seized into the slave trade up until his freedom. Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl discusses her successful struggle for freedom for herself and her children, along with being a woman itself. Both abolitionists wrote heartfelt experiences and social struggles they dealt with one being from a female’s perspective and the other one being a male. Harriet Jacobs gender ultimately had an affect on her discusses and experience that Equiano or any other male figure couldn’t experience.

There have been numerous writers who have impacted abolishments among them is Olaudah Equiano. Olaudah Equiano was a slave who expounded on his awful experience of slavery. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African written by Olaudah Equiano discusses Equiano’s life, illustrating a detailed story of the voyage to freedom. Equiano was born in the kingdom of Eboe what is now known as Southern Nigeria. Equiano begins his writing with “I believe it is difficult for those who publish their own memoir to escape the imputation of vanity…”. He saying that he sees a pattern when it comes to authors regularly shielding themselves from pride or admiration and that he was not gonna do that. They’re gonna get real experience and events he encountered. Equiano experienced in his slave owners hands led him to share with his readers the ordeals of his lives. He didn’t want sympathy points nor attention. He confined his story as something he expected to divulge and he just wanted his voice to be heard by his audience. With the audience primarily aimed at the American and British masters but also Africans. He also discusses the difference of slavery in African countries and the New World. In Africa, there wasn’t any racial based but crime based and they were treated like another member of their family. “The next day I was washed and perfumed, and when meal time came I was led into the presence of my mistress, and eat and drink before her and her son” . Like Equiano, many slaves could tell the difference. Before even arriving at the new world the neglect started. While of the ship to the new world, there were leftovers of the crewmember however instead feeding the slaves they threw it off the ship, “One day they had taken a number of fishes; and when they had killed and satisfied themselves with as many as they thought fit, to our astonishment who were on the deck rather than give any of them to us to eat as we expected”.

The position of Equiano on slavery throughout the writing varies. However, throughout this entire narrative, the tone of the writing was hopefully was evident. From the beginning when he is first kidnapped he states “I had hopes of being discovered we had advantage but a little way before I discovered some people at the distance on which I began to cry out for their assistance but my cries I know I don’t expect him to make a tiny faster and stop by mouth and then they put me in a large had no other effect than to make them tie me fasting to stop my mouth, then they put me in a large sack”. However, eventually, he lacks hope because nothing is altering and even if he attempts to get out he can’t. “While I was projecting my escape one day an unlucky event happened, which quite disconcerted my plan, and put an end to my hopes”. The confidence and hope were then later regained after arriving in London and encountering good things for him. His stance is complicated throughout his text however he then wraps everything together and continues his tone of hopefulness at the end. “However, when I went to London with my master, I had soon an opportunity of improving myself, which I gladly embraced”.

Harriet Jacobs was the first Black woman in the United States to write a slave narrative. Before publishing Incidents in a Slave Girl’s Life, several people African-American woman such as Jarena Lee and Zilpha Elaw published autobiographies. Incidents in a Slave Girl’s Life addresses the Harriet Jacobs’ battle for freedom, and also the gruesome events of her escape. After her mother died, her grandmother raised Jacobs and her siblings. When Jacobs was eleven years old, her mistress died and she was given to Dr. Flint. Dr. Flint caused Jacobs hardships from sexual assault to harassment. Along with the grief of being disconnected from your kids as well as raising kids themselves and not getting to care about you but other individuals. Being a Black woman itself put a target on you back. “But where could I turn for protection? No matter whether the slave girl be as black as ebony or as fair as her mistress. In either case, there is no shadow of law to protect her from insult, from violence, or even from death”. There was no one she would turn to for help. To make matters worse, the slaves were hated by the mistresses who were jealous that their husbands; the masters found something sexual attraction in someone else. Although the mistresses realized that the owners committed wrongdoing but yet blamed the female.

Jacobs’ narrative also illustrates the particular problems faced by female slaves, particularly victims of sexual violence. She writes “My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him”. She was sexually assaulted by her master but also obliged into a relationship with him. She explains how he reminds her of his power and being his property ending with Jacobs being stripped from her own dignity and humanity. Her gender shaped her slave experience because there was an impression of females being seen as sex symbols and being handled as such. The highlight of Jacobs’ story is the sexual exploitation she and many other slave women had to suffer. Equiano, like Jacobs, was determined to battle for his freedom. However, they couldn’t experience the dangers Jacob faced. Not only was being whipped and unfairly treated, but they have also been sexually abused and harassed by their slave masters and often carry their children afterward. Harriet Jacobs was reminded each day that she was a slave. “He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things”. Equiano, on the other hand, discusses not even feeling like a slave. “Indeed everything here, and all their treatment of me made me forget that I was a slave”. This is hard to believe but him saying he didn’t feel like a slave shows he was treated with good care. Yes, they dealt with hardships and unhumanitarian conditions but he couldn’t experience the life of Jacobs with the simple fact of her just being a woman.

These accounts enumerated the hardships and inhuman conditions, these individuals suffered, yet they additionally demonstrated assurance for these people to keep fighting for equal rights. Initially, these writers expressed there a purpose behind their writing, which is to influence and advance the abolition of slavery in there time but additionally in today’s world to carry some light to some of the horrible treatments and conditions Africans endured. The abolishment movement impacted different people in various ways. Jacobs being the voice for women who have been sexually assaulted by their masters. And Equino being an example of hope and change for the people. Even though both stories were different from one another they both showed the conditions a slave death with. Without a question, all slaves suffered unbearable and inhumane conditions however it was beyond excruciating for the females.


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