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Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself - Essay Example

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Name: Course: Tutor: Date: A Critical Exploration of Female Slaves’ Condition as Depicted in Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” In the narrative, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl", a former escaped slave, Harriet Jacobs depicts the lives of the female slaves with the cruelties and brutalities they had had to undergo during the era of slavery…
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Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Download file to see previous pages... It is because in male dominated society, female slaves were the worst sufferers of male lust. Also since women’s financial contribution was equal to their male counterparts’, they were often neglected the allowances which were normally granted to the male slaves. In the narrative, Jacob upholds the fact that the nineteenth century society was, in the first place, very much discriminatory to women. On top of it, slavery would permit the male dominated society to exert their brutal desires over the female slaves to the fullest extent. Such brutal treatment would never hold them accountable. In the narrative, Jacob shows that the evil of slavery puts the despotic males at the control of humanly institutions like motherhood, womanhood, etc. Therefore, the slave-owners not only denied humanity by continuing slavery, but also reached the extent to oppose the most sacred institution of womanhood as well as motherhood. When Jacob says that “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women…Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own” (Jacobs 23), she refers to a masculine but horrible face of slavery in the context of femininity. In addition to what the slaves, whether they are male and female, suffer from, a female slave has to suffer vehemently from a torrent of emotional anguish first as an object of lust and then as a mother. Different from other slave narratives, Jacob has used the scope to view slavery from a quite different angle. Jacob notes that most of the lave narratives of her era have a common pattern of depicting the graphic details of whipping, physical torturing, etc. Subsequently these narratives uphold a dangerous escape of their slave protagonists to the North. But Jacob depicts a quite different situation for a female slave. She shows that for a female slave, any attempt to escape from the slavery was more of a heart-piercing dilemma because of their progenies. She could neither endure the torture nor leave their children behind and run away. So, their only way was to submit to their fate. But when other women would let themselves collapse under the crushing torture of slavery, Linda retains her mental strength to oppose Mr. Flint’s desire. Linda’s mental strength is evident in a speech: “When he told me that I was made for his use, made to obey his command in every thing; that I was nothing but a slave, whose will must and should surrender to his, never before had my puny arm felt half so strong” (Jacobs 46). Indeed, this simple comment of Linda tends to summarize the gist of the whole narrative as well as of the evil of slavery in American society during the early nineteenth century. It can be viewed from different perspectives and angles. As a mother, Linda violently fights against slavery. She wants to save her children from the evil of slavery. She plays hoax on Mr. Flints in order to attain freedom for her children, Benny and Elena. She had to spend innumerous sleepless night in the tight attic in which she can hardly stand. But her only pleasure is that she can see her run around her Aunt Martha’s house freely. Indeed, for any male reader, such sacrifice may seem to be something mere, but the pains, sufferings and angst she undergoes during those days of slavery are ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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