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Persuasive Arguements In The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

1304 words - 6 pages

"The Life of Olaudah Equiano” is a captivating story in which Equiano, the author, reflects on his life from becoming a slave to a freeman during the 19th century. Through his experiences and writing, Equiano paints a vivid picture of the atrocities and cruelties of European slavery. Ultimately through his narrative, Equiano intends to persuade his audience, the British government, to abolish the Atlantic slave trade as well as alert them of the harsh treatment of slaves. He successfully accomplishes his goal by subtly making arguments through the use of character, action, and setting.
The creation of character is an instrumental part of Equiano’s strategy in convincing his intended audience. One of the characters that plays a crucial role in this strategy is himself. Through the creation of his own character, he is able to establish credibility, relate to his audience, and extinguish general stereotypes about Africans. One way Equiano successfully does this is by exhibiting qualities that present him as being morally justice and loyal. For example in Chapter 7, Equiano purchases his freedom and is purposeful to include the information that he got his freedom by legal means. He says “The captain then said he knew I got the money very honestly, and with much industry, and that I was particularly careful” (page131). By including this in the chapter, Equiano is limiting questions that his audience might have about how he got the money, and displaying the goodwill of his overall character. He continues within this chapter by showcasing his good character in not immediately leaving his slave master (Mr. King) after being given his freedom, but remaining with him out of appreciation and gratitude. Additionally, he is then even able to support the argument of his character by quoting word for word a certificate given by his slave master for good behavior in chapter 9. In the certificate written by Mr. King it says “he has always behaved himself well, and discharged his duty with honesty and assiduity” (156). This assist in his argument by giving substantial evidence of his good behavior during his time in slavery.
Another way that Equiano successfully establishes credibility, relates to his audience, and eliminates general stereotypes is by demonstrating strong Christian values. During the 19th century, Christianity was the center of European life and society. Equiano uses Christianity to build his character by showing his devotion to Christ as well as becoming religiously relatable to his audience. He offers many religious frameworks to compare himself to so that the Europeans can understand his standpoint. For example in chapter 7, he compares his newly bought freedom to Peter by saying “…I flew to the Register Office: and, in this respect, like the apostle Peter, (whose deliverance from prison was so sudden and extraordinary, that he thought he was in a vision), I could scarcely believe I was awake” (132). Equiano is able to reveal to his...

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