The Middle Passage : Tracing The Path Essay

The Middle Passage : Tracing The Path Essay

Length: 1211 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Middle Passage: Tracing the Path from Human to Commodity

In order to better understand why and how subhuman treatment arose and its effects on slaves in the Middle Passage, I have chosen to focus my research around how the presentation of slaves being treated differs according to different accounts in their rhetorical context. My research will center on the book The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano, in which the author recounts his experience as a slave going through the slave trade. By reading Equiano in relation to Ring Shout, Wheel About: The Racial Politics of Music and Dance in North American Slavery, by Katrina Thompson, and Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World, by James Sweet, it becomes possible to understand the complexity of slave objectification in the Middle Passage.

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano is a particularly interesting object because it is primary, in that he is telling us, in the first person, about his own experiences. Personal accounts from slaves are scarce, and so, this is a crucial source in analyzing the reactions to slaves being objectified in the slave trade. Equiano was a slave in Virginia for a short period of time, but the majority of Equiano 's life as a slave was serving the captains of slave ships and British navy vessels. Due to increased time on a slave ship, Equiano experienced much more firsthand exposure to the transatlantic slave trade than any other slave, allowing us to get a deeper look into a slave’s perspective. Following his life journey can allow us to trace his experiences and thoughts that may not be reported by the conductors of the slave trade, where the majorit...


... middle of paper ...


...atment arose for economic purposes, and thus, a connection can be established with the Davies and Lovejoy.

Key Questions
Why were the slaves treated as if they were subhuman? How did the ideas of slaves being subhuman bring about different treatment of slaves? What effects did these kinds of treatment have on the slaves?
How did the rhetorical context of the accounts affect the presentation of the treatment to its audience? In other words, how does the presentation differ when a slave is recounting an event from that of a conductor of the slave trade?
How does the process of going from a human to an object take place? Is someone who becomes a slave stripped of their humanity at one specific moment or does it happen gradually? Why does this happen? What prevented the slaves from resisting their objectification? Why did society allow this inhumane treatment of slaves?

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Middle Passage Essay

- The Middle Passage (or Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade) was a voyage that took slaves from Africa to the Americas via tightly packed ships. The trade started around the early 1500s, and by 1654 about 8,000-10,000 slaves were being imported from Africa to the Americas every year. This number continued to grow, and by 1750 that figure had climbed to about 60,000-70,000 slaves a year. Because of the lack of necessary documents, it is hard to tell the exact number of Africans taken from their homeland. But based on available clues and data, an estimated 9-15 million were taken on the Middle Passage, and of that about 3-5 million died....   [tags: Slavery]

Better Essays
1234 words (3.5 pages)

The Middle Passage Was A Sea Journey Essays

- The middle passage was a sea journey by slave ships from West Africa to the West Indies and Americas from 1601-1857 (University). The first successful African author, Olaudah Equiano (Donaldson) portrays the vivid details and personalizes these destructive forces of slave trading during the middle passage. In his narrative, Equiano influenced British abolitionists, as well as European slave masters, and convicted them of their wrongdoing. Slave trading during the middle passage was the most destructive thing to happen within the African culture because of the harsh physical and psychological effects, inhumane treatment, and dehumanization of slaves....   [tags: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade]

Better Essays
1390 words (4 pages)

The Middle Passage by Charles Johnson Essay examples

- In the novel “The Middle Passage” by Charles Johnson, mental slavery is a huge factor that is used throughout the book. Metal slavery is the inability to view events, or one’s self, differently from commonly held beliefs. This explains that if you have heard something that is most likely not true and will not research history on it, but spread it around as if you did thus being ignorant as the person that told you. I think that mental slavery is a terrible thing in the world today because everyone is or was a slave captivated by lies or false accusations....   [tags: Mental Salvery, Character Description, Analysis]

Better Essays
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Middle Passage Essay

- INTRO Examination into the true heart of experience and meaning, Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage looks at the structures of identity and the total transformation of the self. The novel talks about the hidden assumptions of human and literary identity and brings to view the real problems of these assumptions through different ideas of allusion and appropriation. As the novel tells Rutherford Calhoun’s transformation of un-awareness allows him to cross “the sea of suffering” (209) making him forget who he really is....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Charles Johnson]

Better Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

African Slave Trade And The Middle Passage Essay

- Why did the Europeans and Americans turn to Africa for slave labor. What were the evils of the African slave trade and the “middle passage”. What impact did the slave trade have on Africa. In this paper I plan to explore why Europe who was a large colonizer of the world turned to Africa for slave labour, the issues and mistreatment that took place, and what Europe gained from use of slave labour. Europe itself was drawn to Africa not for slavery but for the wealth of resources and a shorter trade route to India....   [tags: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade]

Better Essays
1109 words (3.2 pages)

The Middle Passage Essay

- Most history books has recorded that between the years 1701-1760, millions of Africans were literally stolen away from their native lands leaving behind their families, work, heritage, and everything that was familiar to them. Robbed of their independence and ‘humanness’; they were reduced to cargo. This was what ‘the Middle Passage’ also known, as the ‘Slave Triangle’ was all about; the trading of goods and commodities among continents including the trading of black men, women and children who were treated like property....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
799 words (2.3 pages)

Terror of the Middle Passage Essay

- A popular literature has painted this part of the slave experience as uniquely evil and inherently more inhuman that any of the others horrors of the slave life(Klein 130). Slaves were taken from their homes and was forcibly traded.One cannot, of course, mention the Middle Passage without eliciting the horrors of tightly packed men, women and children chained together, to keep them from rebelling, or from choosing the suicidal fate of jumping overboard. The mortality of captives in Africa, therefore, included not only losses among those headed for export at the Atlantic coast but the additional losses among those destined for export to Orient among those captured and transported to serve Afr...   [tags: Slavery]

Free Essays
895 words (2.6 pages)

Mysticism in A Passage to India Essay

- Mysticism in Forester's A Passage to India       The figure of Mrs. Moore, and the problem of what happened to her in the extraordinary Marabar Caves, has fascinated critics for decades. The question has absorbed attention to a degree that does not correspond to the secondary role that Mrs. Moore plays in the plot of A Passage to India. On the surface, she is a supporting character, yet many of the unresolved issues of the novel seem to be concentrated in her experience. Mrs. Moore arrives in India a sympathetic figure, and departs unresponsive and uncaring, transformed beyond recognition by the mysterious voice of the Marabar....   [tags: Passage to India Essays]

Better Essays
3924 words (11.2 pages)

Essay Middle Passage

- Middle Passage European slavers altered the way that different African people viewed one another and themselves. The book by Miguel Barnet, Biography of a Runaway Slave is a strong account that can be used to explore how Africans changed their perception of each other, and how this change influenced the lives of Africans in the Americas. First of all it is important to examine how many African slaves were brought to the New World. The Middle Passage is infamous route of the ships that carried slaves to the Americas....   [tags: History]

Free Essays
1311 words (3.7 pages)

Middle Passage Essay

- Middle Passage The triangular trade system was so named because the ships embarked from European ports, stopped in Africa to gather captives, after which they set out for the New World to deliver their "human cargo," and then returned to the port where they had originated. The Middle Passage was that leg of the slave triangle that brought the "human cargo" from West Africa to North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Depending on ship design, weather conditions, and points of departure and arrival, the journey across the middle passage lasted from six weeks to three months....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
428 words (1.2 pages)