In Benito Cereno, Melville is specific in his depiction and symbolism of each of the main characters. The target group of the essay was the white northerner who is generally against slavery, but does not care to take action. Captain Delano is the perfect character to represent this target group, and the story was told primarily from Delano’s perspective. It is clear throughout the story that Delano is somewhat against slavery, but does believe that blacks are of lesser intelligence and incapable of being in cahoots with Cereno; therefore, he is racist. Melville uses the story as an omen to white northerners that slaves are capable of great things, and that northerners must change their attitude toward the root cause of slavery: racism.
Almost all of the story is told in the third person perspective of Delano, targeting the white northerner audience right away. Delano has a limited perspective of his surroundings, he tends to notice signs of unusual behavior, but is oblivious to their potential meaning or consequences. Delano’s ignorant style allows him to base his opinions of what is going on around him solely on his preconceptions. Most of his thoughts while on the San Dominick, therefore, are controlled by his racist opinions of the role of blacks and whites. Melville uses this to show white northerners they must challenge their preconceptions, not only because of the potential danger for whites, but also because those preconceptions are what is allowing slavery to continue to exist.
Delano never gives any thought to the possibility that Babo could be a leader or even capable of colluding with Cereno. He shows this when he dismisses the possibility of Cereno working with the slaves to plot against him by saying "who ever hea...
... middle of paper ...
...lavery was tied closely to racism, and that blacks will never truly be free unless racism is combatted.
Through Delano, Melville shows the dangers of racism. He believes that white northerners are not doing enough as bystanders who think slavery is wrong. He shows how northerners are indeed racist, albeit less aggressively so, and that they are as much to blame for slavery as southerners. He also uses the story of Benito Cereno as a warning to whites, which serves as motivation; if they do not change their oblivious ignorance of what is going on, they could consequently be the victim of a metaphorical slave insurrection. We can see today that despite slavery being long gone, the effects of racism still have a profound effect on the lives of blacks. The message to white northerners was to stop “following their leader,” and to recognize the root of the problem: racism.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Analysis of Critical Essays on Benito Cereno It is possible to divide the critics into two camps regarding Herman Melville's purpose in writing "Benito Cereno." Joseph Schiffman, Joyce Adler, and Sidney Kaplan all argue that Melville wrote the story to make a comment on slavery. On the other hand, Sandra Zagarell and Allan Emery contend that Melville goes beyond slavery and is pointing out other flaws in mid Nineteenth century American notion. "Benito Cereno" tells the story of a slave revolt on a ship at sea.... [tags: Benito Cereno Essays]
1273 words (3.6 pages)
- Importance of Setting in Benito Cereno Many authors of fiction works have a good reason behind setting their story in a specific place and time. In many cases, the setting is blatantly significant, giving the reader added meaning, and a greater understanding of the story in the realm of its context. I definitely found this to be true in Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, who sets his story in South America. The only representative of America is Captain Delano, a naive man that views the world as kind and benevolent, and where things cannot go too far beyond what they seem like on the surface.... [tags: Benito Cereno]
964 words (2.8 pages)
- The Character of Captain Delano in Benito Cereno Captain Amasa Delano is an interesting embodiment of white complacency about slavery and it's perpetuation. Delano is a human metaphor for white sentiment of the time. His deepest sensibilities of order and hierarchy make it impossible for him to see the realities of slavery. Delano's blindness to the mutiny is a metaphor for his blindness to the moral depravity of slavery. The examination of Captain Delano's views of nature, beauty, and humanity, allow us to see his often confusing system of hierarchical order which cripples his ability to see the mutiny and the injustice of slavery.... [tags: Benito Cereno]
1461 words (4.2 pages)
- Malicious Babo Benito Cereno is a short novel written by Melville, with a surprise ending. At least it was quite a surprise that Babo, the negro servant of Cereno, ends up being the one in charge of the ship. Babo fought for his freedom, which is good, but Babo went above and beyond the means necessary to get his freedom. Along with that he has much more serious problems with himself. Here are some ways to see it. There are two ways to look at what Babo did. When he was fighting for his freedom he was either fighting for his life or for his quality of life.... [tags: Benito Cereno]
992 words (2.8 pages)
- Reversing the Master and Slave Role in Benito Cereno White men held within an inch of death or even more tortuous fates at the hands of black slave-mutineers, kept alive solely to navigate the blacks to freedom--is this concept something so preposterous that it isn't conceivable. It depends upon whose eyes the insurrection is viewed through. In "Benito Cereno," Captain Delano's extreme naivete and desensitization towards slavery greatly affect his perceptions while aboard the San Dominick.... [tags: Benito Cereno Essays]
1088 words (3.1 pages)
- ‘Benito Cereno’ is a fascinating story that defies simplistic attempts at interpretation. This story of cruelty and oppression perpetrated by the characters that would usually draw our sympathy is hard for modern readers to interpret. Critics have disagreed on whether this story is about racism, Old Europe succumbing to the New World, or the weaknesses of perception and understanding. Here, Melville seems to be at his most opaque. In order to guess at his central message, one must examine his strong characterization as well as some of the symbols that he uses throughout the story.... [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Racism]
1338 words (3.8 pages)
- Slavery is a topic much written about, especially in nineteenth century literature. Many books and poems have been written in favor or against it. Two stories written in the decade before the Civil War, when the discussion about slavery was at its height, still stand out today. Herman Melville's Benito Cereno (1855, 1856) and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) both criticize the institution of slavery, but in a different way. Where Melville is quite subtle, Beecher Stowe is much more obvious and sentimental.... [tags: Benito Cereno Essays]
2045 words (5.8 pages)
- Good and evil are part of human nature and an individual can have different perspectives and interpretations of both. Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” attempts to portray the everlasting struggle between recognizing the evil versus the good through the characterization of the narrator, Captain Delano. He uses Delano, an innocent and optimistic person, as the narrator of this story to portray the average American who is culturally conditioned to believe that slaves can only be depicted in a nonresistant and unassertive role.... [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]
1115 words (3.2 pages)
- The Oppression of Democracy Exposed in Civil Disobedience, Slavery in Massachusetts, Benito Cereno and Bartleby the Scrivener America has long been recognized as a democratic nation, a nation operating under the will of the people. The forefathers of America fought incessantly against British tyranny to start anew in a land of freedom and opportunity. Because America revived the ancient Greek ideology of democracy, the nation was set apart from the rest of the world and was revered for the freedom and justice it provided its people.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Slavery Massachusetts Benito C]
1539 words (4.4 pages)
- Benito Cereno by Herman Melville In many stories, the main characters carry the plot of a story throughout the book. The author often expresses the message that he desires the reader to receive through their thoughts and actions. Yet, the minor characters often have a large affect on the outcome of the book, although it is not quite as obvious to the reader. By altering the thoughts or actions of the main characters, a seemingly minor player in a novel may actually, at closer examination, be an important player in the plot.... [tags: Papers]
575 words (1.6 pages)