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Persuasive Arguements in The Life of Olaudah Equiano Essay

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"The Life of Olaudah Equiano” is a captivating story in which Equiano, the author, reflects on his life from becoming a slave to a freeman during the 19th century. Through his experiences and writing, Equiano paints a vivid picture of the atrocities and cruelties of European slavery. Ultimately through his narrative, Equiano intends to persuade his audience, the British government, to abolish the Atlantic slave trade as well as alert them of the harsh treatment of slaves. He successfully accomplishes his goal by subtly making arguments through the use of character, action, and setting.
The creation of character is an instrumental part of Equiano’s strategy in convincing his intended audience. One of the characters that plays a crucial role in this strategy is himself. Through the creation of his own character, he is able to establish credibility, relate to his audience, and extinguish general stereotypes about Africans. One way Equiano successfully does this is by exhibiting qualities that present him as being morally justice and loyal. For example in Chapter 7, Equiano purchases his freedom and is purposeful to include the information that he got his freedom by legal means. He says “The captain then said he knew I got the money very honestly, and with much industry, and that I was particularly careful” (page131). By including this in the chapter, Equiano is limiting questions that his audience might have about how he got the money, and displaying the goodwill of his overall character. He continues within this chapter by showcasing his good character in not immediately leaving his slave master (Mr. King) after being given his freedom, but remaining with him out of appreciation and gratitude. Additionally, he is then even able ...


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...ke swine, so that we were at last obliged to lift them into the boat, and carry them on shore by force” (144). He uses the argument that the white people would have done nothing but sit there and drown if it wasn’t for them. In a way, all the credit for them being saved is because of the black slaves on the ship. Though whites are supposed to be superior in intelligence according to European culture, they sat around stupidly not assisting in saving their own lives. By creating this action, he is showing how perceived notions can be equal no matter what the race.
Equiano uses character, setting, and action to further his points of persuasion. He skillfully paints his argument to the British government in terms and events that they will understand and appreciate. Each part of the narrative is designed to elicit a specific reaction and make an overall persuasive point.



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