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A New Deception: Comparing Benito Cereno to the Modern orld
Although Benito Cereno is presented as the captain of the ship, it is actually Babo, the slave, who is in control of the situation. Babo represents in Melville's Benito Cereno, a man driven to rebellion against a system of slavery; Cereno represents a man caught in the middle of a slave trade, experiencing for the first time what it is like to have lost one's freedom. In the end, Babo is executed for leading a mutiny, and Cereno dies shortly thereafter from mysterious effects that might be interpreted as a defeated spirit. The deception of the novella is this: that Captain Delano, who comes to the assistance of the San Dominick, is led to believe that the true ruler of the ship is Cereno, who is actually the slave of Babo. This paper will explore the deception at…… [Read More]
Another fairly salient example of the irony between the relationship between Babo and Cereno is presented when Babo shaves the ship's captain. On a literal level, this incident appears highly indicative of the subservience of Babo to Cereno, since he is performing some mundane task for the benefit of the captain. However, a closer reexamination of the diction utilized in Melville's description of this scene in a dialogue between Babo and Cereno (between Babo and Delano) in this passage demonstrates that what appears to be concern for Cereno on the part of Babo is, ironically enough, menace. "You must not shake so, master. -- See, Don Amasa, master always shakes when I shave him. And yet master knows I never yet have drawn blood, though it's true, if master will shake so, I may some of these times." (Melville 1856). Despite the fact that Babo refers to Cereno as "master"…… [Read More]
In fact, when in the midst of trying to sort out what was going on aboard the San Dominick, he briefly thinks that Cereno might be teaming up with the blacks, but this was impossible, since "who ever heard of a white so far a renegade as to apostatize from his very species almost, by leaguing in against it with Negroes?"
Throughout the story, Melville relates how Delano eases his fears by seeing the inferiority of the blacks, like when he feels an "apprehensive twitch" of fear when a group of blacks surround him (Tawill). He quickly assures himself that this group of men are "like so many organ-grinders, still stupidly intent on their work, unmindful of everything beside." Later, Delano associates these Negroes with docile animals. When the black slave Babo is first introduced, he is compared to a pet dog: "By his side stood a black of small…… [Read More]
Benito Cereno" by Herman Melville
The theme of racial inequality in "Benito Cereno" by Herman Melville
The novel "Benito Cereno" (1856) by Herman Melville is a literary work that contemplates and depicts the issue of slavery and racial discrimination, which is a social problem that existed and is promoted by nineteenth century Western society. In the novel, Melville presents his own opinion about the said issue, illustrating the detrimental effects that slavery and discrimination results to the welfare of the white people, who are oppressors of the black slaves. By presenting a situation wherein white and black people experienced a "reversal of roles" in the novel, Melville conveys an effective message where he leaves his audience reflecting on the issue and resolution arrived at by the end of "Benito Cereno."
In depicting the theme of slavery and racial discrimination, Melville utilized three important elements in the novel, namely the character…… [Read More]
The character of Babo, who apparently was just a loyal personal attendant of Don Benito, but actually he was the person first-in-command of the throng of slaves, and tended to be a constant eye on Benito, and influenced (in fact controlled) all his actions/decisions. As it was revealed in the latter portion of the story, that it was Babo, who took the dire initiative to overrule the enslavement, which was literally destroying his kins, both mentally and psychologically. Hence Babo was that Black who actually channelized the thirst of freedom which was a direct effect of slavery.
Even the old Oakum-pickers, who according to Delano: "Seem to act the part of old dominoes to the rest," tended to further support the notion that Don Benito's role of being the ship's Commander had turned into a symbolic one.
The passive character of Don Benito itself, illustrated the fact that he…… [Read More]
Thoreau, Stowe, Melville and Douglas: Reflections on Slavery
Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beacher Stowe, Herman Melville and Fredrick Douglass all opposed the intuition of slavery in the United States in the middle of the nineteen century. This matter deeply divided the nation and ultimately led to the Civil ar in 1860. hile southerner's saw the matter as a state's rights issue, abolitions framed the debate from a moral perspective. Most people in the south felt that slaves were their property, and it was for them to decide the moral and religious right of the slavery question. They saw the abolition of slavery as a threat to their very way of life. Abolitionists believed there was no distinction between slavery and liberty, a nation that condoned slavery could not be truly free (Foner). Each of these writers presented their views of slavery in there literary works.
Henry David Thoreau
On…… [Read More]
nature in American literature, from earliest writings to the Civil War period. It is my purpose to outline the connection between spirituality, freedom and nature and explain how American writers have chosen to reflect and interpret these themes in relation to their historical realities.
At the beginning of the colonization process there were two congruent depictions of nature. Initially, the tribes comprising The Iroquois League lived in close contact with nature and believed in the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with it. In this respect, the Iroquois Constitution imposes a devout display of gratitude to all by-human elements of the world before the opening of any council. On the other hand, the early explorers and founders of the United States perceived an immense natural potential in the country. In this sense, Thomas Hariot describes the New World as a land of wealth, his words and images aimed both at…… [Read More]
Man of the Crowd
By Edgar Allan Poe (1840)
The story significantly depicts not only the preoccupation of the 17th hundred London issues and a trend brought by the progressive industrialization of time, but speaks so much relevance in our modern time as well. The epigraph which sums up the very essence of the story explains the dynamic of a human being too busy to mingle with the crowd for fear of facing the haunting memory of a disturbed self, the lonely person, the conscience and the unsettling disturbances deep within. The epigraph "Such a great misfortune, not to be able to be alone" is rich in context within the story, but also a rich source of reflection of a human and societal struggle. I firmly believe in the relevance of the story not only in its significance to the theme and era when this story was written, but for…… [Read More]