The Life Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs Essay

The Life Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs Essay

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The two slave narratives Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself provide two different perspectives on the institution of slavery. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl depicts a female perspective of slavery in the 1850s while The Interesting Narrative of the Life... provides a male perspective from almost a hundred years before. Although written at different times from different perspectives, both works illustrate the tragic reality of American slavery. As a key component of American culture, both Equiano and Jacobs are exposed to the Christian faith. However, Harriet Jacobs uses her religion to recognize the hypocrisy of white Christianity and consequently condemns slavery, while Olaudah Equiano inadvertently condemns slavery by demonstrating how religion enforces white supremacy through the retelling of his conversion to Christianity.
In Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet maintains a strong faith in God while she faces adversity. However, she is also able to apply a critical lens to southern, white church culture. Harriet is able to see through the hypocritical mirage of the southern white church as she recognizes multiple discrepancies in the ways Christianity is taught and valued in her town. By doing this while also documenting her struggle, her white readers are forced to recognize their own hypocritical ideals of enslavement.
Harriet first sees this hypocrisy when her 'kind ' mistress dies and leaves Harriet to her sister 's daughter instead of freeing her. She mentions, "My mistress had taught me the precepts of God 's Word: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ', 'Whats...


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... Olaudah immediately asks his master 's wife if he can be baptized (137). Equiano 's process of becoming a Christian begs the question: Is he a Christian because his beliefs align with the faith, or is he a Christian because his beliefs align with whatever his white counterpart 's beliefs align with? Because of his recognition of the value of Christianity in his white superior 's eyes, the latter seems more plausible. Harriet sees the religious illusion crafted by the white community, while Olaudah falls victim to it.
Both Harriet Jacobs and Olaudah Equiano point out the illusions of white Christianity in from their own unique perspective. Jacobs uses her faith to recognize those illusions, while Equiano falls victim to them. However, both illustrate the deceitful reality of white supremacy to their audience and thusly advocate for the abolition of slavery.






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The Life Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs Essay

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