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Oppression In America After The Civil War

1302 words - 6 pages

Slavery in America began in 1619 when the first African slaves were brought to work on the production of crops (Carmichael). A movement to abolish slavery in America was getting popular in the northern United States, from the 1830s to the 1860s, which was led by free Blacks and White supporters (Carmichael).The Emancipation Proclamation was President Lincoln's desired solution to the slavery problem but, despite his goodwill, the civil war erupted. In fact, people of the time did not see themselves as "equal to each other" and this thought perdured long after the end of slavery and in multiple aspects. The oppression of the Black is suggested through Eugene O'Neill's play called "The Emperor ...view middle of the document...

The global acceptation of the black as humans would take longer than what Lincoln imagined even if he knew that it wouldn't happen right away. But even though in the past, most people saw the emancipation proclamation as a failure, Lincoln knew that to succeed he would have to start somewhere, which he did with the emancipation proclamation, but he still paid the price with his life. The truth is that the issue of the document is the milestone for the freedom of the slaves, which was never thought of before, even though it did not have immediate results, it is what triggered the path to a better world of trust and understanding. In fact, it also triggered a movement of subtle literature that mostly supported Lincoln's dream by unashamedly denouncing unjust discrimination and prejudice toward the black race.
Eugene O'Neill is seen as one of the most influential playwrights in the history of America after the civil war (Steen 342). In his play called "The Emperor Jones" he used Brutus Jones' clothes (the dictator protagonist) to evoke power and respect as O'Neill states: "An underlying strength or will, a hardy, self-reliant confidence in himself that inspires respect"(536). He represents civilization which is portrayed as powerful in front of the "savages". Across the jungle his uniform begins to drop pieces by pieces just like his pride. O'Neill then depicts Jones: "His pants have been so torn away that what is left of them is no better than a breech cloth"(552). He gradually becomes almost naked both physically and metaphorically as he loses his costume and pride at the same time (as he fires more bullets he becomes less and less powerful, and the fact that he loses his costume makes him look more like the people he used to rule). The point that O'Neill was trying to make is that in the end, we are all humans, no matter if one is an emperor or a slave, because without costumes or power, they are both exactly the same. Even though the play was seen as racist at first, analyzing it may reveal another truth to it, because according to Shannon Steen:"In order to dramatize the problem of whiteness, or at least of Irishness, O'Neill turned to blackness to represent his own crisis of psychic and social alienation"(Steen 343).O'Neill was trying to show in a subtle way that skin color is basically a costume: it's not because one is black that this person has to be considered worthless, it's just a costume. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation served as a milestone towards the end of Black discrimination, other kinds of people (even white) were also the victims of alienation.
The short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman is the perfect example of non-black discrimination after the civil war with themes ranging from "freedom and confinement" to "madness" or even...

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