Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formattingExcerpt from Essay:
Equiano and Slavery
Equiano's main purpose in writing this Narrative was to inspire Parliament to abolish the African slave trade, which he stated at the beginning when he presented it in 1789. Part of his strategy was to describe himself as a humble "unlettered African" grateful to the West for obtaining knowledge of Christianity, liberalism, and humanitarian principles who is petitioning on behalf of his "suffering countryman" (p. 2). For the benefit of the gentlemen in Parliament at least, he describes himself as a very loyal English subject who has fought in its wars against France from a young age -- the Seven Years War in this case. His Calvinist-evangelical Protestantism was evidently very heartfelt and sincere, and in that respect his views were quite different from the deism, skepticism or even atheism more commonly associated with the Enlightenment. Equiano reacted quite sharply against such ideas when he hears them, however, and evidently derived great comfort from religion. Equiano regarded the professions of Christianity and humanitarianism in the Western world as mostly nominal rather than sincere, although personally he was committed to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. For most of his life, though, he was dependent on the patronage and goodwill of powerful white men, and came to identify with their culture. Even as a freed slave, his condition was very far from true freedom and equality with whites, although far better than that of plantation slaves.
According to his autobiography, Equiano was only eleven years old when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery with his sister, so this was certainly a factor in how he remembered his own culture, and in facilitating his adjustment to a new one. Had he been a mature adult, such an adjustment would probably have been far more difficult, perhaps impossible. He was very young and frightened when he was taken to Barbados and then Virginia and England, and had never even seen a horse before, or a watch, a painting or snow. As a pre-adolescent child, then, he was thrown in alone with whites and Africans whose languages he could not understand, and literally having no idea where he was in the world and for a time he wished he were dead. Rather than commit suicide, though, he somehow found within himself the strength and determination to survive, and learn the rules for existence in this strange new world -- which must have seemed like some other planet to him. In Virginia, while working on a plantation he "was constantly grieving and pining, and wishing for death rather than anything else" (p. 91). In this case, he deserves a great deal of admiration, because many persons in that situation probably would not have survived. Culture shock is far too mild a term to describe his experience, for he had everything taken from him, including his name. From his master, a ship's captain, he learned English as well as trade, commerce and warfare, since he fought as a privateer in the wars with France. Equiano simply seemed to move into this role naturally, only learning to use new types of weapons he had never seen before, and he reports that "I was trained up from my earliest years in the art of war; my daily exercise was shooting and throwing javelins; and my mother adorned me with emblems, after the manner of our greatest warriors" (p. 48). Powerful men in Africa did have their own slaves and servants, and he reports feeling quite attached to his master, who was a kind of father-figure, and to another boy of the ship who was like a brother.
From a very young age, then, he not surprisingly came to identify with his master and the ship, and also with his master's country and its wars against France. On board the ship, he even met the famous General Wolfe and took part in the attack on Louisbourg. In a few years, he learned "to speak English tolerably well, and I perfectly understood everything that was said. I now not only felt myself quite easy with these new countrymen, but relished their society and manners. I no longer looked upon them as spirits, but as men superior to us; and therefore I had the stronger desire to resemble them; to imbibe their spirit, and imitate their manners" (p. 133).…[continue]
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(Olaudah Equiano: A Critical Biography) In the final analysis while there may be some controversy about various details and dates, the narrative in the book is generally accepted to be authentic and reveals a man's search for meaning and freedom. 3. Conclusion The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano is a testament to the search for human freedom and a firm indictment of the practice of slavery. Whatever the debate it about its
5). Although the author was far from being fortunate to have been sold and bought and sold again, his ability to survive the sea passage that killed so many of his brethren testifies as much to his luck as to his mental and physical strength. Moreover, Equiano was young enough when he was first sold to the British to have still retained the fear of a child that might
He takes advantage of each new situation and has his fellow mariners and owners teach him new skills. He says that he often used his free time to "improve himself" (70). When visiting a new island he speaks of his being able to go "about different parts of the island [ . . . ] gratifying [himself]" (75). He expresses a great amount of autonomy in these actions. He is
..really believe[d] the people could not have been saved" (Carretta, p. 129). In conclusion, this is a fascinating man who was put into slavery and later became an educated, respected writer in his own time. And yet, even after publishing his book, the Interesting Narrative, critics in London doubted that he could have written it himself. A black man with such narrative skill was obviously a rarity. In the Monthly Review,
Oluaduh Equiano The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African Written by Himself is a two-volume memoir of the author's being bought and sold like cargo during the heyday of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Divided into twelve chapters, The Life of Olauduh Equiano begins with the author's description of his own people and culture in West Africa. From the outset, Equiano uses a tone of humility and warns the
Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano The two texts that are very famous for their representation of the Early Black Literature and that have now become a part of the English Literature course in many universities are The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, The Africe, Written By Himself published in the year 1794 and The History of Mary Prince, which was
Olaudah Equiano / Prince Slave Stories The story of Olaudah Equiano began in Nigeria in 1745, when he was born; by the age of 11 Equiano was a victim of kidnapping and was sold to slave traders. His fate was not to be nearly as harsh as millions of other African natives that were seized and put into bondage, as his own writing reveals. But he was a slave and suffered