The Slave Narrative Essay: Cult Of True Womanhood

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Analogous in form to the spiritual autobiography, the slave narrative emphasizes the difficulty of upholding moral goodness under the weight of slavery. By revealing herself as a “fallen woman” Jacobs creates a hazardous problem, capable of eliminating the sympathies of a primarily white audience. Moreover, Jacobs risks portraying herself as an impure woman, whose virtuousness departs from the piousness and gracefulness typically exemplified by the ideal woman or “angel in the house,” according to the “Cult of True Womanhood.” Therefore, in an effort to preserve the ethos of her argument, Jacobs attributes her unchaste condition to the systemic effects of American slavery. Hoping to destroy the ideology of benign paternalism, Jacobs reveals her consequential ethical dilemma through a faint description of her master’s, Dr. Flint’s, licentious behavior. The sentence, “The influences of slavery had had the same effect on me that they had on other young girls; they had made me prematurely knowing, concerning the evil ways of the world,” refutes the stereotype concerning slaves and sexual immorality by…show more content…
The sentence, “I wanted to keep myself pure; and, under the most adverse circumstances, I tried hard to preserve my self-respect; but I was struggling alone in the powerful grasp of the demon Slavery; and the monster proved too strong for me,” exonerates Jacobs while pinning the crime on the corrupt social institution, slavery (48). To further this point, Jacobs employs the rhetorical device of personification to describe slavery in terms of human attributes. In effect, Jacobs transforms the ideology that is slavery into a material object upon which the reader can place blame. Each carefully chosen word works toward Jacobs’ ultimate goal of revealing the underbelly of benign paternalism, the backbone of Southern

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