Narrative Contrast of the Male Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1237 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

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In his narrative, Douglass constantly addresses the reader as if the reader is in the room with him, as if using his life's incidents as documentary evidence against the institution of slavery.

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Jacob's style is both more personal in that she tells, rather than talks to the reader, but also places less stress upon education. Perhaps this reflects a covert agenda -- because Jacobs was female, her enforced ignorance would not have arisen the same sense of horror in her reader's hearts, nor would an argumentative style been as effective in raising their ire. Rather, it is the rape and subjugation of the female body rather than the male mind that becomes the focus of her narrative. No physical respite from the terrors suffered by other slaves on plantations at the hands of overseers could be worse. "When my master said he was going to build a house for me, and that he could do it with little trouble and expense, I was in hopes something would happen to frustrate his scheme; but I soon heard that the house was actually begun. I vowed before my Maker that I would never enter it. I had rather toil on the plantation from dawn till dark; I had rather live and die in jail, than drag on, from day-to-day, through such a living death. I was determined that the master, whom I so hated and loathed, who had blighted the prospects of my youth, and made my life a desert, should not, after my long struggle with him, succeed at last in trampling his victim under his feet. I would do any thing, every thing, for the sake of defeating him." (Jacobs, Chapter 10, Retrieved on April 12, 2004 at (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/JACOBS/hjch10.htm)

Jacobs' apparently ingenuous sense of sexual honor, as opposed to her horror of illiteracy is the focus of her narrative -- and perhaps more likely to draw the 19th century reader's sympathy.

Also, the young Harriet was not simply a slave, but also a mother, forced to become separated from the children she bore as the result of her systematic rape by white men such as Dr. Flint and Mr. Sands. Again, this separation would have drawn the sympathy of her readership.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Narrative Contrast of the Male Assignment

Even at the end, there is a distinct contrast in the way these two slaves received their manumission. The most extraordinary aspect of the slave narrative of Jacobs, of course, is how, when Jacobs finally ran away successfully, she hid away for seven years in an attic, located in the same town as Dr. Flint. As Douglass finds his freedom through movement, Jacobs, a female initially and paradoxically found freedom through physical confinement, although she was later able to extract herself from this situation, fleeing to the North where a woman buys her freedom. However, even in the structure and emphasis of their narratives of bondage, though true, the two authors decision to highlight different aspects of their personal experiences, and with different rhetorical styles (one confrontational, one reflective and personal) show how they were aware that different aspects of their life would draw the sympathy of their readers, and that different prose was required to turn the hearts of Whites to the abolitionist cause.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself.

Edited by Jean Fagan Yellin

Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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