The Horrors Of Slave, And Birthing A Slave By Harriet Jacobs

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Modern day thought typically views slavery from one perspective that of the physically abused male slave, beaten and battered by his aggressive slave master. In Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs brings light to the other side of the horrors of slavery, the psychological abuses, in particular the psychological abuses that women in slavery face. Comparatively, Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave does depict the horrors of slavery from the perspective of women and the horrors of the abused child bearing mothers. Although some may believe that in Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Jacobs fails to get at the true horrors of the physical brutality of slavery as presented in Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave, in reality Harriet Jacobs autobiography and Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave both depict severe horrors of slavery but from the perspective of mental and psychological anguish.
During the era of Jacob’s life, women are seen as moral superior beings, being deemed pure, pious, and caring and representing a God like figure. With these moral expectations in mind, women find the most fulfillment in life by caring for their home and their children. For black women in this era, they are deprived from these fulfillments in life due to their lack of human rights and legal protection. This deprivation can be seen clearly in the psychological suffering from sexual abuse.
Since black slave women are seen as property with no human rights they are not allowed to determine who they have sexual relations with. In Birthing a Slave, Schwartz explains how rape was discussed publically and privately in the region and how slave mothers saw forced sex, population, growth, and...

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... proved to be just as difficult for them to endure. In Birthing a Slave we can see the brutal physical side that slave women are facing during this time, but we can also see the psychological horrors that they are facing hand in hand with it. Similarly, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl gives a clear image of the trials of mental abuse that slave women are facing. With sexual abuse and fear of losing their children, slave women are being psychologically tortured and unable to achieve fulfillment in their lives. Jacobs’s account of the mental and psychological difficulties that women slaves face can best be described when she explains her feelings when having a daughter, “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own” (119).
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