On Being Brought From Africa To America By Phillis Wheatley

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To understand the real meaning of a literary work, we need to look into the meaning of each word and why the author has chosen these particular words and not different ones. Close reading of literary works helps us understand the author’s thinking and understanding of the time they lied in. One of the American poet and author of the 18th century, Phillis Wheatley, she was one of the most famous poets who changed the life of most Americans. Wheatley’s most famous poem is “On Being Brought from Africa to America”. To look in more detail into this specific poem, first thing is the language that she uses, second the form and style of the poem, and lastly what message she is trying to get to her audience. However, in this essay the main focus will…show more content…
The aspects of slavery are shown in the last three lines where she says, “Their color is a diabolic dye.” (Wheatley) In this line the fact that she is comparing the color black to the demons’ color shows that most probably she is ashamed of her race or it could be that she is trying to make the White American believe her and go on there side just so that she could publish her book. However, if we interpret it in other ways, the way she uses the words “diabolic dye” could be referring the black that the white think of as devils and objects. The fact that they are dark skinned the Whites think of them as the cursed community. Wheatley’s use of words in this poem shows us how she thinks the Whites think of them, because of the time she lived in was the perks of slavery, it showed in her writings. The fact she describes her own race as demons, brings up the question, is she ashamed of her race? To answer that we need to look at the lines before it, “Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye.” (Wheatley) Human beings are always known to look down on the “different” people, the way she uses the word “Sable” is that as a pun, the real meaning of “Sable” is being dark or something dark, however here she uses it as an expensive property, thus being a typical example of…show more content…
However, it is like she’s talking with the Christians, reminding them of who she is. The use of pun in this poem is seen often, the way she uses the word “Cain” it is either she’s talking about sugar Cain or Cain, Adam and Eve’s son. It recommends that the Christians see Negros as evil and non-human, thus using Cain as the murderer who kills his own brother cause of jealousy, making them “black as Cain”. However, Cain as sugar Cain leads us to the last line of the poem which is, “May be refined, and join the angelic train.” (Wheatley) Again Wheatley’s plays with words here, the use of “refined” leads us back to the line before, “black as Cain”, Cain meaning, sugar cane, the refining could mean that every black needs to be refined as a sugar cane just to be in a society with white people and as she says, “angelic train”. The use of train here could mean white community in which they are white just like angels and the black community cannot join them just because of there color, and the dark color represents devil; devils and angels can’t be on the same
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