Symbolism In Benito Cerreno

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Benito Cereno; The Unexpected Abolitionist Published in Putnam’s Magazine, 1855, Benito Cereno seemed merely a retelling of the chilling events that occurred aboard the ship Tyral, dealing with the slave rebellion and outside interference of the Perseverance. At the pivotal time Melville’s story was being published, tensions were heightened with respect to increasingly diverting opinions on slavery, just before the start of the civil war. Critic J. G. Alleline understands this exceptionally well, arguing that Benito Cereno was not simply a quest narrative about the happenings of a slave-ship rebellion, but rather an intricate narration by Melville of which he describes as the “the legacie of the immorality of slavery is a distinctly American inability to determine what truly matters”, when considering the…show more content…
In order to consent with Alleline’s allegations, the reader must interpret the text as being anti-slavery oriented, given what was called the “immorality of slavery”. In accordance with Alleline, I agree that Melville was making a statement against the institution of slavery in his writing of Benito Cereno. Whereas Alleline’s interpretation of Benito Cereno is distinctly about one effect of slavery, general American shallowness; My interpretation differs in regards to what I think is Melville’s overarching theme of the countless detrimental effects of slavery on an entire population. While J. G Alleline’s critique of Melville’s story, serving as vehicle to highlight American superficiality is slightly narrow, his general ideas that Benito Cereno is a subtle anti-slavery work of literature is accurate, as portrayed through the ignorance of Captain Delano and
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