Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs were both born into the slave era and thus became slaves. Their narratives were written after they had acquired freedom from slavery. Jacobs wrote published in 1861 while Douglass wrote . Both writers give details of their lives as slaves in the South; therefore, the narratives serve as their autobiographies. The narratives vary both in content and target audience because each writer experienced a different type of slavery. Despite this, they both manage to evoke the readers’ attention towards slavery, making them realize the urgent need for its abolition. This paper seeks to compare the different aspects of slavery as experienced by these writers when they were in bondage.

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In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs writes autobiographically about her families' and her personal struggles as a maturing "mullatto" child in the South.


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Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs wrote narratives to abolish slavery while appealing to their audience’s emotions.
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Slavery is a crucial part of American history, one which continues to be the basis of relationships between white and black Americans. It was quite rampant in the early years before the American Revolution which sought to put an end to it. However, many forms of literature on the events that transpired at the time when slavery was legal have arisen. Various writers, many of them African American, have written works of literature on their experiences during the period of slavery. Among them are Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, who wrote narratives of their accounts of slavery. At the time of their writing, narratives and poetry was the main form of writing. Other than providing versions of what actually happened to slaves, these forms of literature were mainly aimed at drawing attention to the atrocities of slavery and advocate for its abolition.


Harriet jacobs life of a slave girl essay

In addition to sexual harassment, Harriet Jacobs wrote about family ties. All the children born as a result of heinous acts of injustice were taken from their mothers at birth. In this case, this was not only to prevent bonding of parents and children but rather to help extricate the shame that might befall the slave owners. Additionally, the wives of slave owners were not particularly happy with having their husband’s illegitimate children around their homes. To Jacobs, women had to endure a lot of emotional pain in slavery. This she narrates with much conviction, having experienced it herself. Despite having high moral standards, she had them lowered to please her master who reasoned that since she was not treated brutally like her comrades, she owed him for this supposed advantage.

19.11.2009 · Harriet Jacobs Analysis

These readers will also note that Harriet Jacobs, like other black women writers, does not separate herself from her community. Oftentimes the female narrator's voice is not just one voice but many; Jacobs will often step outside of her narration and encourage the reader to some realization or sentiment. This is different from slave narratives written by men, such as Frederick Douglass or Olaudah Equiano. In these narratives the male figure is independent, authoritative, strong, and heroic. There is not as much of a focus on familial or communal ties.

Harriet jacobs essay - Stmcrehab

Harriet Jacobs used the character of Linda Brent to bring out the oppression of women as it was in the period of slavery (Gates, 102). As aforementioned, she wanted to reach out to the women in the North where slavery was illegal. In so doing, she would help enlighten the country on the effects of slavery on women and the family ties that accompany them. In her narrative, she says that men suffer from slavery, but women endure much more. By the time she was writing her narrative, she had two children born out of wedlock, after she was raped by her master. She focuses on an aspect of slavery, which many writers of that time felt uncomfortable mentioning. The sexual harassment of women slaves by their owners brought embarrassment both to the masters and their wives. With this regard, many women suffered in silence and their literary counterparts shied away from addressing the issue.