Essay on Olaudah Equiano And The Slave Trade

Essay on Olaudah Equiano And The Slave Trade

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As a young boy, Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped from his home in Africa and forced into the infamous slave trade. Like many other slaves, he was physically and emotionally traumatized by a series of unfortunate events that occurred in his lifetime. He was traded often, served under numerous masters, shipped along with hundreds of other enslaved people, and had to bear witness to the deaths of several slaves. Equiano was among the few who were eventually able to gain freedom, and even more of a rarity, acquired an education and published his own book. His book was an original for this time period because his audience was primarily European people who had never been able to read about the slave trade from the perspective of an actual former slave. His narrative helped to inform the public and encourage more people to work towards ending the slave trade all together. In order to combat the slave trade, Equiano uses vivid imagery of his personal life experiences as a slave, demonstrates how the power over slaves impacted men and the treatment of slaves, and puts an emphasis on the overall immorality of subjecting men to a life of slavery.
Equiano’s personal account of the slave trade helps to make the audience sympathize with his grief and suffering following his kidnapping. He and his sister were both taken from their home, and after a long journey, going further and further away from their people, his sister was “torn away from [him]” (45). What many slave traders ignored was the importance of family and familiarity to a number of people. Equiano shares how he “cried and grieved continually” for his sister and in doing so, first introduces the audience to a side of him that is scared and anticipating the worst (45). He often appeals ...


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... problem of lies and deception (93). The more the amount of slave owners grew, the more corrupt mankind was becoming. Where Equiano lived in Africa, slaves were either prisoners of war or criminals who committed acts such as adultery (33). In these cases, there was some sort of “justified” reason for this enslavement, however, the European trade involved many innocent men, women, and children, and they had no justification for enslaving these people besides them looking different or having a culture that was strange to them. The ignorance of slave owners most likely allowed for the slave trade to, as Equiano said, “debauch men’s minds, and harden them to every feeling of humanity” (111). This could be seen as a call out to the public to acknowledge that men were unknowingly being harmed by their increasing desire to parade another race of humans around as inferiors.

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