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The Symbolic Feature With In The Book "The Interesting Narrative Of The Live Of Olaudah Equiano".

1374 words - 5 pages

Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa is one of the earliest African authors whose literary mission was to end slaver. He was kidnapped at the age of eleven and endured and witnessed many cruelties upon fellow Africans. In "The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano," Vassa puts his life down in written word. What makes this work of literature so different from any other autobiography is the fact that it is laced with meaning and symbolism. Equiano puts forth his life in a calculated form with a means to gain support for the abolitionist movement.In the beginning of the narrative the reader encounters a description of Essaka, Equiano's place of birth. All through Equiano's autobiography, Essaka plays an important part. This village serves as a marker for the author's identity. Essaka also represents an ideal primitive society. "Primitive" in this essay is being used in a sense that the society is lacking of all industrial influences. Equiano's village was a family oriented and agricultural society. This village did not have much is any technological influence at the time of Equiano's capture and enslavement. Essaka is even described by the author as almost an Eden like place of existence. Equiano's village is also used symbolically as a comparison to England and America. Houston has even stated thatAgainst Essaka's seemly backdrop are set the brutality of the European slave trade, he horrors of West Indian slavery, the changing fortunes of the Seven Years' War between England and France, the cunning mechanics of the eighteenth-century industrial revolution, and the various competing theologies of a world in transition. (1)When Equiano was captured and brought to a slave ship, he was amazed and scared by the sheer size of it. The slave ship is the first encounter he makes with mechanical and industrial technology that he would come across for many years. Industrialism to Equiano was amazing because of the possibilities it possessed. This is made evident when Equiano sees a clock on the wall when he was fanning his master, to keep him cool. The clock on the wall is countered with the evil side of a mechanical and industrial society. The author states,I was one day sent for to his dwelling house to fan him; when I came into the room where he was I was very much affrighted at some things I saw, and the more so as I had seen a black woman slave as I came through the house, who was cooking the dinner, and the poor creature was cruelly loaded with various kinds of iron machines; she had one particularly on her head, which locked her mouth so fast that she could scarcely speak and could not eat or drink. I was astonished and shocked at this contrivance, which I afterwards learned was called the iron muzzle. (1136)The excerpt is symbolic because it shows how the Slave trade of Europe and America were cruel in a sick manner. Slave owners went through great pains to take mechanics into the realm of torture. Equiano uses vivid descriptions of torture in order to...

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