Slave Narratives as Abolitionist Arguments Essay

Slave Narratives as Abolitionist Arguments Essay

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From the period of Antebellum America up into the present time, many documents and pieces of work have been published regarding the abolition of slavery and slavery in general. Regarding the abolition of slavery, slave narratives were one of the ways to get readers first hand look at accounts of slavery and in turn were a big part of abolitionist movements. In class we have read three of the great slave narratives and there are abolitionist themes that can be traces through all three of them. These themes argued against slavery and were used to persuade their readers to support the abolition of slavery. Although there were many similar themes through out the narratives I will be focusing on just two of the most effective ways that argue for the abolition of slavery: slavery seen as a slow poison, and emotion through extreme cruelty and suffering.
The argument of slavery portrayed as a “slow poison” can be seen throughout the three narratives that are the basis for this paper. The “slow poison” being that slavery is a slow poison that effects not only blacks and whites but everyone around and subjected to slavery. The most obvious people that are effected by slavery are the slaves but there are many examples of whites and their families being effected by slavery also. The Epps family from Twelve Years a Slave is a good example of how slavery can tear apart a family. Mr. and Mrs. Epps were happily married until their marriage became challenged by Mr. Epp’s liking to a slave girl named Patsey. Mrs. Epps became jealous over their relationship and over time their marriage became broken and Mr. Epps became an alcoholic to deal with his marriage and his near constant whipping of his slaves. Mrs. Epp’s jealousy and hatred for Patsey c...


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...“slow poison” argument the author were able to relate to the readers own lives in many of the situations and show that slavery is bad for everyone and not just the slaves. The authors also include several instances of extreme cruelty and suffering which engages that readers emotions and get them thinking more about the treatment of slaves and abolition. With these two arguments being found throughout the three slave narratives it should be easy for any reader to see that slavery is wrong and join the abolitionists.



Works Cited

Brown, William Wells. From Fugitive Slave to Free Man: The Autobiographies of William Wells Brown. 1st ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996. Print.



Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. Print.




Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. Auborn: Derby and Miller, 1853. Print.

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