Essay on Harriet E. Wilson 's Our Nig

Essay on Harriet E. Wilson 's Our Nig

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Harriet E. Wilson is an African American woman who based her story, Our Nig, on her own personal accounts during her enslavement. Our Nig is a unique story because it gives another perspective of different forms of slavery (i.e., Northern indentured servants) and sheds light on the hardships faced by female indentured servants. However, there are many other reasons why Our Nig is distinctive, including its compelling story, its analyses that give a detailed breakdown, its interesting language of the period, and ability to produce a reaction from oneself.
Our Nig begins by introducing Mag Smith, a white woman who has been seduced and abandoned by a white male. In turn, people started to treat Smith coldly. Therefore, she left her home and moved into a new town. Smith later meets an African man named “Jim” and marries him. Afterwards, Jim acquires tuberculosis and dies, leaving Smith to provide for their children. In order for someone to help her economic problems, Smith marries Seth Shipley, a white man and one of her previous husband’s business partners. At one point in her marriage, Smith leaves her African American daughter Frado under the Bellmont’s (a white middle-class family) care.
During her stay in the Bellmonts, Frado faced many obstacles and hardships. While Mr. Bellmont and his son Jack are kind, Mrs. Bellmont and her daughter Mary are coldhearted. When Frado first came into the Bellmonts’ house, Mrs. Bellmont sends Frado to sleep in a cold and unfinished place in the house. At the start of the next day, Mrs. Bellmont sends Frado to do housework (which she must do daily) and if it is not accomplished correctly, Frado would receive punishment. After a year under the care of the Bellmonts, Frado is allowed t...


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...o her life and seduced her. Believing that he loved her, Smith gave her virginity to him. As soon as he had taken away her innocence, he left her.
One’s overall reaction to the reading is despite the hardship that Frado faces in the Bellmont’s household, she survives the torment and faces the world ahead of her with a brave face. Not only did Frado handles her mother’s abandonment, but also the cruelty of being an indentured servant. Based on her experiences, one respects Frado for pushing forward with her life.
Overall, there are various reasons why Our Nig is notable, including its fascinating story, analyses, language of the period, and ability to produce a reaction of oneself. Although Frado was not referred to as a slave, she experienced the sufferings of a slave. Nonetheless, Wilson portrays a “tainted” view of the North, one that is painful to recognize.

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