Essay on Women Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs

Essay on Women Of A Slave Girl By Harriet Jacobs

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Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, is a perfect sentimental narrative. Sentimental lecture became popular with women in the 1850s. Sentimental themes shown in Jacobs’s work include the sacred bonds, separation, love, death, heartbreak, sacrifice, and emotional feelings and sympathy throughout the narrative. According to Nina Baym, in Harriet Jacobs autobiographical work, Jacobs sought to “capture the attention of Northern white women… to show them how slavery debased and demoralized women…[and] to create sympathy for her plight; she sought to win the respect and admiration of her readers for the courage with which she forestalled abuse and for the independence for which she chose a lover rather than having one forced on her” (921). In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs writes an account of what slavery was like for her, a female slave, in the pseudonym Lind Brent.
At the beginning of the narrative Jacobs starts by revealing her happy, innocent childhood of six years with her mother and father, unaware of the fact that she “was a piece of merchandise, trusted to them at any moment” (922). Unfortunately, her mother died and she was sent to live with a new master in her youth. This master took care of her and taught her to sew, but after time passed the caring master died, leaving her to another new master Dr. Flint. Jacobs reveals, “the memory of a faithful slave does not avail much to save her children from the auction block” (923). In this quote Jacobs speaks of her faithful and loving mother’s attempt to protect her children. Jacobs mother had been promised that her children would be kept safe and protected by her master; however, due to the evils of slavery her mother’s master did not uphold her p...


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...and her children and she is truly thankful to God. At the end of the narrative Jacobs writes, “Readers, my story ends with freedom; not in the usual way, with marriage. I and my children are now free! We are as free from the power of slaveholders as are the white people of the north… The dream of my life is not yet realized. I do not sit with my children in a home of my own” (941). Jacobs is excited to be free with her children with no worries; however, she wishes to obtain the ultimate goal, a home. With a home, Jacobs could “achieve the “true womanhood” promoted by the nineteenth century sentimental culture” (Boehm) and truly become the domestic and maternal mother she hoped to be. Finally, in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs has captured how slavery has dishonored and oppressed women. She also has accomplished writing the perfect sentimental narrative.

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