Mary Prince Essay

941 words - 4 pages

Nicholas Casale3/3/2014English 2102Professor ScillaciBest Picture: "Many Years a Slave," Starring: Mary PrinceMuch of the literature from the Romantic Era deals with people who consciously choose to remove themselves from the world in order to escape reality. Mary Prince however was excluded from the world not by choice, but by force. Unlike the, "Interesting Narrative of Olaudoh Equiano," where Equiano chooses to be less accusatory of the immorality of white slave owners, Prince explicitly condemns the cruelty and abusive nature of the slave trade. Prince's account is unique in that it relies on vivid imagery in order to shock readers, and also because she is able to lend her voice to other slaves that were abused in similar manners. She argues that despite the fact she was excluded from the world during childhood and a large part of her adult life, she deserves her natural rights to be recognized. This narrative is an attempt to overcome her exclusion and her argument is strengthened as she contrasts her own character with that of her owners.As a child Prince experiences daily abuse, "To strip me naked- to hang me up by the wrists and lay my flesh open was an ordinary punishment for even the slightest offence (Prince, 241)." This striking image of a young girl being tied up and beaten to a pulp evokes a very visceral response. An in-depth description of the entire process of her punishment enables readers to correlate this image of "ordinary discipline," with an image of torture. The idea of physical torture does not only have a much stronger effect rhetorically, but it is also conveys a much more accurate description of the way slaves were treated. In addition to being physically abused as a young child, she was also made to work long hours of the day, which meant that time for play or relaxation was forbidden. She describes her chores, "I had to milk eleven cows every morning before sunrise… take care of the cattle as well as the children (ironically she is a child herself); and to do the housework. There was no end to my toils- no end to my blows (Prince, 241)." This passage is an example of a corrupted childhood as Mary misses out on the wonderful experiences of youthfulness. Prince's forced exclusion from the world at such a young age is evident by the fact that there is no point in her narration where she recounts times of joy or wonder, something that you would expect a person with an ordinary childhood to remember. Instead, the only memories that stayed with Prince were those of prolonged abuse and suffering. This era is remembered as one that highly regarded the value of imagination and creativity, but Prince was not allowed to experience many things as her status of a slave forbade it. Additionally, this passage not only describes...

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