Amazing Grace Or Disgrace? Essay

1297 words - 5 pages

Imagine living in the 1700s when slavery was a normal part of people’s everyday lives. Would you be for slavery, or against it? People in today’s society would denounce slavery as cruel or inhumane. But in the eighteenth century, most of the western society accepted slavery and the slave trade. It took heroic efforts be brave, dedicated political leaders to eventually turn the tables. Amazing Grace is a historical film that depicts the life and work of British politician and abolitionist campaigner William Wilberforce. The film takes place in Britain between 1780 and the early 1800s, during which Wilberforce was working to write and pass a bill to abolish the slave trade. While watching this historical film, one might automatically assume that the events presented accurately illustrate Wilberforce and his work to abolish the trade of enslaved Africans. After much research and speculation, it can be determined that most of the scenes, people and history depicted in this film were for the most part accurately portrayed. However, filmmakers ignored small details, such as dates and important background information, and chose to make severe changes to the overall plot of the story that altered the historical accuracy of the film as a whole.
Beginning as a popular and determined Member of Parliament, or MP, William Wilberforce was eventually persuaded by his friends William Pitt, Thomas Clarkson, and Olaudah Equiano to fight the dangerous issue of the British slave trade. Taking on a sudden interest in the matter, Wilberforce became very disliked within the House of Commons amongst the other MPs in favor of the slave trade. Because of this unpopularity, as well as his stress and frustration with the British Parliament, Wilberforce became physically ill, forcing him to consider leaving politics forever. However, with the help and motivation from his newly wedded wife, Barbara, and former priest and mentor John Newton, Wilberforce picks up the fight against slave trade right where he left off. His persistent hard work and dedication to the cause eventually led him to successfully pass a bill through Parliament in 1807 abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire forever.
In the opening scene of the film, Wilberforce is traveling by horse drawn carriage through a rain-soaked English countryside. Putting his health at risk, a very ill Wilberforce forces the carriage to pull off to the side of the road and gets out to save a black horse being whipped by his masters. The two middle class commoners who were punishing their horse immediately stopped when they realized who was talking to them. They reeled back in admiration and acceptance of his forceful orders, and agreed to stop beating the horse. Throughout Amazing Grace, William Wilberforce is projected as a flawless character with nothing but greatness thrust upon him. Any negative characteristic showing that Wilberforce was not faultless, such as his addiction to opium and his multiple failures...

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