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Understanding Slavery - Essay Example

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Slave trade started when European countries began exploring of rest of the world. The supportive monarchies in Europe enabled the more adventurous to expand the boundaries of their nations across continents. …
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Understanding Slavery
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Slave trade became a prominent and lucrative trade.The prosperity of western countries accelerated immensely because of the slaves that were brought in from the African continent. African people could survive tropical conditions and diseases and were good at agriculture and maintaining cattle.
2. In the triangular trade, the first stage involved taking manufactured good from Europe to Africa. These good were exchanged for slaves. In the second stage the slaves were shipped from Africa to Europe and the third stage involved shipping of manufactured goods from labour plantations run by slaves to Europe for trade.
3. Initially Portugal monopolised the slave trade, followed by the Dutch and other European nations. The slave trade also crossed the boundaries and extended to America. Many African kings and tribal heads co-operated the Europeans in supplying people from their or other tribes as slaves for the trade.
4. The slaves were picked in large numbers from the African continent, as the survival rate in transit for them was very low. We have to understand these contexts when we analyse the passages given. The first passage is from Voltaire’s novel Candide. Candide is the protagonist of the novel who is trained by philosopher Pangloss to believe in eternal optimism. Pangloss believes that God is perfect and does his best with his creation, the world is perfect. Candide feels strongly at various points in life that he has to abandon this philosophy because it is impractical. However, he continues with his belief. He simply finds it convenient to believe in this philosophy. Candide and Pangloss come across the slave in an extremely agonizing condition, lying on the road when they are in the Dutch country. He is lying at the roadside with only blue canvas drawers to cover him, his one hand and one leg is cut. He is in agonizing pain. When Candide asks him about his condition, he narrates his story. He is working as a manual labour in a sugar factory and when his fingers get caught in the machine, his hand is chopped off. He tries to run away, so he loses his one leg which is the punishment of trying to escape. He speaks about his situation in an almost resigned tone due to excruciating pain he is suffering. Voltaire has sketched the character of his master as evil in any case, but the state of the African represents slaves all over the Europe. He questions the morality and Christian spirit when he speaks about the price he had to pay to put sugar on the table of the white people. He is constantly being told that all human beings are equal in the eyes of God and Christianity, while reality is diametrically opposite to what is being preached. His family worships the Europeans and considers them to be idols. The price at which he is sold by his own family is minuscule, considering the hardship he has to go through in his life leading to his getting disabled permanently. His mother trusts the whites to be gods on the earth who are sure to make her son’s life happy and comfortable. He laments that he doesn’t know if life is fortunate, and thinks his parents are fortunate that they are not present in this country to suffer like him or to witness his suffering. He suffers emotionally because he blames himself for acutely failing to fulfil expectations of his parents. He compares life of a slave to pets and dogs and thinks that his life is even less valuable than that of animals. In the second passage Gronniosaw tells his life story. His story remained under ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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