This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Literature As Resistance In The Anti Slavery Movement

3299 words - 13 pages

Different Voices, One Message: Literature as Resistance in the Anti-Slavery Movement

"The pen is mightier than the sword"

The struggle for emancipation was not one which began and ended with the Civil War. African Americans during the period of slavery had very few options left to them regarding their own freedom. The law that held them in slavery could not be trusted to emancipate them. For those who were fortunate enough to have obtained their freedom, the only power they had they had in the abolitionist fight was the power of the written word. African American writers used varying writing styles to carry their message across. Some used pious and moral instruction, others used political exhortation and social prophecy, but all were delivered in a distinctly vintage nineteenth century rhetorical vein which was evocative and powerful.


Harriet Jacobs and Maria W. Stewart assert that slavery produces deprivation and degradation on its helpless victims. It is a disadvantage to blacks because it robs them of the opportunity for virtue, morality and enlightenment. Jacobs argues that slavery is as much a curse to whites as it is to blacks. She demonstrates this point by showing how the morality of each is corrupted. Stewart in turn affirms that slavery prevents blacks from fulfilling their God-given potential and deprives them from true self-actualization. Both authors' work would have been received by predominantly white abolitionists and it is to this audience that they plead their case.


In Harriet Jacobs' autobiography, Incidents In the Life Of a Slave Girl, she asserts that slavery is a curse to the nation and is a factor in the breakdown of the American household and family. Jacobs show the evilness of slavery by, not only depicting the brutality of the institution, but by showing how it corrupts the moral virtue of both the slave and the slaveholder. She writes, "I can testify from my own experience and observation, that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes the white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched. And as for the colored race, it needs an abler pen than mine to describe the extremity of their sufferings, the depth of their degradation." (54)She shows this by describing how she was a victim of Dr. Flint's sexual harassment and the measures she had to take out of desperation. She shows how Dr. Flint's wife was embittered by knowing that her husband was a philanderer, though there was nothing she could do to prevent him. Jacobs also writes that this is a recurring phenomenon because sons learn from seeing their father's actions, that abusing their female slaves is an acceptable norm. She also writes that the sanctity of marriage, a God-governed institution, is desecrated because of the adultery that slaveholders commit. As female slaves' lives...

Find Another Essay On Literature as Resistance in the Anti-Slavery Movement

The Sharpeville Massacre in the growth of international anti-apartheid resistance

1387 words - 6 pages Evaluate the significance of the Sharpeville Massacre in the growth of the international anti-apartheid movement to 1994.Daniel RappoportApartheid, justified as a policy of separate development for the different races, was a social engineering system that codified in law and defended with force, the segregation of the races and the domination of the whites. The various international anti-apartheid movements exponentially applied adequate

The Modernist Movement in the History of British Literature

1781 words - 8 pages “Suicide Solution”             As a direct result of an artistic rebellion against the edicts of the Romantic Era, the aristocratic hypocrisy of the Victorian Age, and of the horrors of both World War I and World War II, the Modernist movement in the arts was inevitable. Roughly beginning at the close of the 19th century through as late as 1965, Modernism came to the forefront in literature (Rahn).  Defined by the technological changes in the

The Beatles and the Anti-War Movement

2522 words - 10 pages The Beatles have been noted as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, and most persuasive bands of all time. They were both musical and lyrical masterminds whom interpreted their opinions through their music. Of those many opinions their main message they wanted to send was the idea of peace. The Beatles opposed the war in Vietnam and were avid participants in the anti-war movement; by trend setting, not being afraid to speak their mind

The Abolitionist Movement in 18th Century American Literature

2055 words - 8 pages time of the American Revolutionary War, men and women of great conscience gathered to express their outrage at a morally and ethically corrupt institution.Samuel Sewall, a wealthy merchant and printer, wrote what was considered to be the first anti-slavery piece published in the colonies. Appointed in 1691 to the General Council, Sewall was selected to serve as one of nine judges on the Salem witchcraft trials by Massachusetts Governor William Phips

How Music Affected the Anti-Vietnam Movement

1503 words - 6 pages initiate change, and through their perseverance to sway the minds of their listeners. During the anti-Vietnam movement era, songs played a key role in the development of the revolution that was about to take place. In the 60’s, music would reflect on the many social conflicts society faced such as the battle for equality, the rebellious atmosphere of the youth, and the resistance to war. Music artists would write about these issues and embed their

Irène Némirovsky and the Anti-Semitic Movement

806 words - 4 pages received praise from others in the anti-Semitic movement for her works. It later became clear to her that the writings and portrayals of Jewish characters in her works such as David Golder were being used to fuel the anti-Semitic movement in France. Némirovsky said “If there had been Hitler [in 1929] I would have greatly toned down David Golder and I wouldn’t have written it in the same fashion” (Sorin). She again expressed remorse three years

Anti-war Movement during the Vietnam War

1819 words - 7 pages Paul Potter, president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), held his first anti-war rally that attracted 25,000 people. The movement occurred between 1960 and 1970. Paul Potter’s speech, “The Incredible War”, was established in hopes of ending the war by creating a social movement. The only way for people to end the war is by challenging the system, creating posters, and not by having a couple marches because that wasn’t going to benefit

Huckleberry Finn - An Anti-Slavery Book: The Problem of Racism in Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

1963 words - 8 pages Historical background and period of realismIn American literature the period of realism (1860 - 1890) stretches from the Civil war to the turn of the century. After the Civil war United States changed quickly. The slavery was abolished, democracy increased, towns became industrialized and urbanized, the population expanded because of the immigration, and the middle-class prospered. This provided a good environment for literature and for readers

Influence of the Media in the Anti-War Movement of the 60's and 70's

2121 words - 8 pages napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart.” The Fulbright hearings were an eye-opener to the millions of Americans who watched them. They convinced many that opposing the war and patriotism were compatible. The movement against the Vietnam War could be said as one of the greatest triumphs in democracy. The war’s purpose was to instill democracy, yet the war was waged with a lack of a constitutional warrant. What started as a few

Forced to Fight: the United State's Envolvement in Vietnam, and the Anti-war Movement

3181 words - 13 pages ideas and fashions.The anti-war movement had profound effects on the lives of individuals who participated. It made dramatic and long-lasting changes in United States and international politics and culture.The Roots of WarVietnamese people have a legend that 5,000 years ago Vietnam was ruled by a dragon called Lac Long Quang. He was good and his reign was remembered as "the Golden Age". Lac Long Quang supposedly married a beautiful fairy, Au Co

The role of Black Slavery in the United States and its progression. The resistance. The underground railroad to Canada

953 words - 4 pages that to. According to Bennett "Many were sent to 'professional Negro breakers' and were broken. Many persisted hardened in their resistance." (1997).A lot of the black slaves considered Canada as a free haven because it was under the British law which allowed colored people to live as they chose. Many of the black slaves fled their masters to live in Canada as free men and women. According to the newspapers: Voice of the Fugitive and Provincial

Similar Essays

The Naturalism Movement In Literature Essay

1758 words - 8 pages Steinbeck, and Émile Zola (Matterson). Literary naturalism, the movement that falls between realism and modernism in the evolution of literature, was a rather pessimistic literary movement which aimed to apply Darwinian principles to its characters and plot lines, study the human’s place in nature, and conclude that all fortune and misfortune in life is simply the result of heredity, instinct, and passion. Naturalism, as a style of writing, came

Slavery In Literature Essay

1879 words - 8 pages Slavery in Literature Frederick Douglass was born into the lifelong, evil, bondage of slavery. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, depicts his accomplishments. The narrative, however, is not only the story of his success. It is not simply a tale of his miraculous escape from slavery. Frederick Douglass' narrative is, in fact, an account of his tremendous strides through

The Anti Pornography Feminist Movement Essay

4200 words - 17 pages by pornography. In one case, a man who had participated in over 100 pornographic movies testified at the Commission hearings in Los Angeles as follows: “I, myself, have been on a couple of sets where the young ladies have been forced to do even anal sex scenes with a guy which is rather large and I have seen them crying in pain.” This is a forgotten angle of the anti-pornography movement. Not only do women suffer sex crimes resulting

The Anti Vietnam War Movement Essay

744 words - 3 pages United States. The Vietnam War was the longest in US history, the most expensive during the Cold War era, and arguably, one of the least popular wars in America. In culmination with the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Scandal, the American people had deepened suspicions and mistrust in the federal government. Since then, American’s have never had the same level of faith in the government, and fear that another war like Vietnam will happen—if it hasn’t already. As for the anti-war movement, it no longer exists.