Harriet Jacobs was an African American woman who wrote incidents in the life of a slave girl in order to discuss her experiences in slavery as a woman. She wanted to unveil the truth about the life of a slave and share her knowledge among white southerners and northerners of slavery. As a slave woman and a runaway, Harriet Jacobs had suffered emotionally, physically, and mentally in the institution of slavery. However, she had suffered far more psychological abuse than physical abuse due to her life as a slave, sexual harassment from her slave master, and the constant fear of being found as a runaway. All these experiences led to the truth of what slavery really was.
Harriet Jacobs didn’t realize that she was born a slave until "six years …show more content…
Harriet Jacobs suffered psychological abuse through Dr. Flint’s constant manipulation. Dr. Flint offered freedom to her children if she agreed to be his mistress. This is evident when she says, “Sometimes, when my master found that I still refused to accept what he called his kind offers, he would threaten to sell my child” (XIV). Even after she conceived two children with Mr. Sands, Dr. Flint’s threats continued. He saw Jacobs’ children as a goldmine that could later be sold. This type of manipulation from Dr. Flint was a huge impact on Harriet Jacobs decisions that led to her escaping from that home and leaving her children behind for their own sake. Jacobs fled to her grandmother’s house where she hid in the attic roof for 7 years to escape her masters mad lust towards her. She watched her children play and grow up through a peep hole with no way of communicating with them. That was the hardest challenge Harriet had to face because she was locked up in a small space with little food and no air to breathe. Harriet Jacobs wrote, “I feared the sight of my children would be too much for my full heart…I bent over the bed where lay my little Benny and baby Ellen. Poor little ones! fatherless and motherless!” (XVII). Her fight for her and her children’s freedom from slavery was what kept her
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The word slave entitles the label of the person being legal property and is forced to obey the owners orders at all causes. For Harriet Jacobs she was claimed and labeled a slave at a young age and began her years of slavery. As we have learned from history, slaves were constantly mistreated and abused for their labor had no rights or say for their lives. Unlike Jacobs she wasn’t endured to hard beatings nor intensive labor like most slaves though she was still sexually abused by her owners. As a slave and a runaway Harriet Jacobs suffered more from psychological abuse than physical abuse because she was abused, separated from her family and was forced into hiding for most of her adult life.
The 19th century was one of the darkest times in American history because of the prevalence of slavery that took place during that time period, especially in the South. The importation of slaves into the United States was banned in 1808, but by that year there were already approximately one million slaves in America. African American slaves worked long hours and often did not receive sufficient food and clothing from their masters. Although treatment of slaves varied by their master, there was a constant threat of physical punishment looming over slaves and they had no legal rights. The inhumane treatment of slaves, especially female slaves, is depicted in young mother and runaway slave Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography Incidents in the Life of
Unfortunately Jacob’s happy childhood did not last forever, the kind mistress died and she left Jacobs in the hands of her sister’s daughter. The only problem was the kind mistress’s sister’s husband, Dr. Flint. Jacobs describes him as “ a man forty years my senior daily violating the most sacred commandments of nature” (pg.26). He told her that she was his property and she was “subject to his will in all things” (pg. 26), he would also follow he around everywhere, like a
Harriet Jacobs, or Linda Brent as she liked to be called, was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1813. She grew up really happy, unaware of her status of being a slave. When she was 6 years old, her mother died and since then she learnt of her status of being a slave (Jacobs, 9). She had a very hardworking father who was also a slave and a younger brother called William, whom she loved so much. Her maternal grandmother helped to raise her and William.
As a woman, Harriet Jacobs faced unique challenges in the slave society. She was forced to endure sexual abuse from her owner and struggled to protect her children from the same abuse. This experience is clear in her narrative, which focuses mainly on the sexual misuse of female slaves. She writes with passion, using her own experiences to gain the attention of free women in the North (Jacobs).
In this incredible memoir, Harriet Jacobs, AKA Linda Brent, states in the preface that her goal of writing this memoir was not to bring attention or pity to herself, but to arouse the women of the North (mainly white people) to realize the atrocities that were still going on at the time. She wants to focus on the women of the North coming to sense with the conditions of the South, some people experiencing far worse treatment then Linda, were still in bondage. She also says her goal is to give her testimony, along with the rest, to convince people from the Free States what slavery actually is. Nobody can truly understand unless they have personally experienced it, but with god’s blessing, she will help shine light on the darkness of slavery.
Frederick Douglass & Harriet Jacobs Slavery has been noted as one of the biggest social issues in America. From the beginning of time, race has been seen as a barrier for some people despite their various attempts at equality none seem to yield any positive results. Frederick Douglas and Harriet Jacobs both have tried to be seen as equal to others but come up short due to the oppression of their skin color. But as a result of their power to not conform to being enslaved and treated like objects due to dehumanization is what leads them on their journey to becoming one of the few free slaves. “My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute.”
They have enlightened others on their hardships faced, discriminations, tragedies, separation of families, and even accomplishments. Harriet Jacobs is known as the first woman to write a slave narrative in the United States. Her story is powerful because readers get to hear about slavery from a woman’s point-of-view. Although Jacobs’ story is personal and true, she creates a retrospective character that plays her role. She skillfully crafts a narrative allusion as if she is telling someone else’s story.
Prior, her first owner, raised her along with her family, was kind and loving Jacobs did not really see herself as a salve because she was “always glad to do her [master’s] biding, and proud to labor for her” (2342). Little did she know how much her freedom will change as she moves to her late master’s sister’s daughter plantation. Jacobs’ carefree heart like “any free –born white child” would soon be torn apart. Now, serving the Flint family, Jacobs realizes how the power Mrs. Flint gains corrupts her standards of virtue as she emotionally abuses Jacobs and manipulates her to her liking. In one scene, Jacobs finds Mrs. Flint crying as she assumes her husband is no longer faithful to her in their marriage.
Equivocating the “Slave” In order to properly understand the capacity of being able to live a life of constant stress and then articulate the life’s story in a fashion that grasps more than the intended audience, when it comes stories being told regarding chattel slavery, one needs to closely read to thoroughly examine the literature of the overall experience. Harriet Jacobs, also published as Linda Brandt, was a daughter, former chattel property/slave, permanent mother/granddaughter, and abolitionist turned profound author. In her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Jacobs pleaded with her targeted Northern colonized female audience in a chance to aide in the severe inhumane predicaments that occupied the Southern
She had lived her first years as happy child, but when her mother died, Harriet Jacobs was sent to her mother’s master, Margaret Hornblow, who taught her to read, write, and sew. Harriet’s master Margaret, had always shown love and affection to Harriet, which she did not realize her life as a born slave girl. In the year 1825, Harriet’s master Margaret had passed
While thinking of her children and their future under slavery, Jacobs recalls her constant fear of slavery and Dr. Flint and how it persistently overlooks her life: “If I went out for a breath of fresh air, after a day of unwearied toil, his footsteps dogged me. If I knelt by my mother’s grave, his dark shadow fell on me even there” (Jacobs 28). Through the metaphor of a dark shadow representing Mr. Flint and slavery, Jacobs is able to show herself in vulnerable situations to appeal to her audience’s sense of humanity and freedom. As a slave, any time not working is valuable, especially with family, which is why this metaphor from Jacobs is so effective. Even while kneeling by the gravesite of her mother, she feels the “dark shadow” of slavery covering her.
My father was a carpenter, and considered so intelligent and skilful in his trade, that, when buildings out of the common line were to be erected, he was sent for from long distances, to be head workman. On condition of paying his mistress two hundred dollars a year, and supporting himself, he was allowed to work at his trade, and manage his own affairs. His strongest wish was to purchase his children; but, though he several times offered his hard earnings for that purpose, he never succeeded.” (page 820) Harriet Ann Jacobs was born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina in 1813. Jacobs grew up in a family where her father was able to keep her and her brother together without being separated.
In Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs narrative they show how the institution of slavery dehumanizes an individual both physically and emotionally. In Jacobs narrative she talks about how women had it worse than men did in slavery. While men suffered, women had it worse due to sexual abuse. The emotional, physical, and sexual abuse was dehumanizing for anyone.