The Slave Singing At Midnight Essay

513 Words2 Pages

Which works reflect their authors’ opposition to slavery? Do you find them effective? Why or why not. Of the three authors, Longfellow, Whittier, and Child, I found Whittier to be the most effective abolitionist writer. Longfellow’s position was clear, but his overall optimism softens the immediacy of the issue. His most thought-provoking lines are found in “The Slave Singing at Midnight” where the narrator wonders why Paul and Silas were loosed of their chains, but the negro in his captivity who also heartily praised God must stay jailed (Longfellow, 575, lines 17-24). The strength of his argument lies in the comparison of black and non-black experiences, and the apparent unfairness of it. The reader has a natural proclivity to think of Paul and Silas as white, which only makes the unfairness of the situation seem more unfair. …show more content…

“Ichabod!” contains several powerful lines that passionately point out the tragedy of white men not shunning slavery. “Oh! Dumb be passion’s stormy rage, When he who might Have lighted up and led his age, Falls back in night” (Whittier, 584, lines 9-12). These lines clearly condemn the leaders that could have been great had they only stood up to injustice, but instead must “hide the shame” (line 36). It is a ringing indictment that focuses on the loss of honor the white man endures for not opposing slavery, and it is that perspective that makes it powerful. Instead of dwelling on the loss of honor that the Black man endures, which the white man will not sympathize with, Whittier strips the white man of his dignity. Just as crafty, “The Hunters of Men” feeds on the pride of the white man to bring him to his knees. The poem is so ridiculously obscene that indignation is aroused in the reader (Whittier 584). The satiric poem works because it does not try to raise sympathy for the African, but instead seeks to humiliate the

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