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English Literature (Classic and Modern): Thesis and Prewriting - Essay Example

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The essay paper “English Literature (Classic and Modern): Thesis and Prewriting” highlights the genre of literature called “Slave narratives” based on the book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. The author describes a life of this group of people…
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English Literature (Classic and Modern): Thesis and Prewriting
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English Literature (Classic and Modern): Thesis and Prewriting

The opening page of the novel touches upon the basic idea underpinning slavery: the classification of people according to race, not only in terms of black and white, but in terms of various shades in between, as indicated by the description of her parents who “were a light shade of brownish yellow, and were termed mulattoes” (p. 11). According to this system of classification white people were accorded a superior role. Linda’s description of her brother William as “a bright, handsome lad, nearly white; for he had inherited the complexion my grandmother had derived from Anglo-Saxon ancestors” (p. 12) shows that Linda has unconsciously absorbed many of the values and judgments of the whole racist system. In this world, to be white is a good thing, and conversely to be black, or partially black, is something bad. The abuse suffered by African-American slaves in the South is well documented in the scholarly literature, but very often the different dimensions of treatment meted out to men and women is not very clear from the historical records. This very personal and moving tale, told from the point of view of a woman who suffered much and witnessed more, makes the history books come alive. One notable incident illustrates the particular effect that slavery had on women, both those who kept slaves, and those who were slaves. Linda is shocked when she is transplanted into the household of Dr. Flint, who is an example of the worst kind of slave owner: cruel and selfish, quick to punish his slaves, and caring little for their welfare. Linda is saddened by the behavior of the wife of Dr Flint. She notes that “Mrs Flint ... could sit in her easy chair and see a woman whipped, till the blood trickled from every stroke of ... Read More
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