Psychological Impacts Of Slavery In Beloved

1650 Words7 Pages
Hannah Tay Yee Ern

Mrs. McNeill


5 November 2014

Psychological Impacts of Slavery

As Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897), an African-American writer who escaped from slavery, once said: “When they told me my new-born babe was a girl, my heart was heavier than it had ever been before. Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women.” Indeed, slavery was an obstacle to emancipation. It left both physical and emotional scars on those who were enslaved. They were shackled to the past - the unforgettable past. In the historical fiction novel Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, the lives of female and male slaves were explicitly described. From the time they were bought, till their later lives after the escape, it is evident that
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Without question, the psychological impact of slavery was displayed through setting, plot and character as one of the major themes in Beloved.

Through the setting in Beloved, specifically the house at 124 Bluestone Road and the cold room, the psychological ramifications of the characters are displayed. The change in atmosphere in both of these places at 124 Bluestone Road- the house and the cold room, is very similar. Before the tragedy, 124 was the heart of the town. It was where people would gather together- to laugh, to talk and to share, “124 had been a cheerful, buzzing
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Before the incident, the cold room was filled with “nothing but sunlight” (Morrison, 185). Just like 124, the cold room was warm. As the murder unfolded, the heat dissipates, and is engulfed by a deep flash of coldness. The sheriff, an outsider who has not, and would not experience slavery, would have a taste of the negative mental effects of enslavement indirectly upon his arrival at 124. While standing inside the cold room, “[he] resisted the urge to run into the August sunlight…he was just cold. And he didn’t want to touch anything” (Morrison, 177-178). Indeed, the emotions and the actions of the enslaved would never be comprehensible by those who enslave. Ultimately, the psychological impacts of slavery led to the dramatic transition from “warmth” to “coldness”, and from “openness” to “isolation” of the victims, but were expressed through the setting in the novel.

In Beloved, various events unfold to shed light on the emotional reverberations of slavery. Of most importance is the incident where Sethe tries to take the lives of her children. Prior to the murder, Sethe has had the true taste of slavery upon the arrival of Schoolteacher.
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