Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was written by Linda Brent under the pseudonym Harriet Jacobs in 1897. Brent was born into slavery. She was utilized by white males that either owned her or courted her. Her owner, Dr. Flint, was a cruel man, and when Brent grew into a young woman, he began to prey upon her beauty. Flint would “whisper foul words into (her) ear” (Jacobs 191), and tell her brutal, gory stories about slaves who attempted to gain their freedom by escaping. Brent uses the cruelty of her master to gain sympathy from the white women of the North. She uses her stance as a woman to show her white peers what it feels like to be owned by a man, and to be forced to do his bidding. Brent also talks about how Dr. Flint was not a loyal husband, a breach of a key value for many women of the North. He even built a cabin in the woods for Brent in order to keep her away from his jealous wife. At this notion, Brent became desperate and sought the help of a young white man who had been eyeing her on her visits to town.
This man’s name was Mr. Sands. With him at her disposal, Brent devised a plan to escape her master. Here, she explains the mental state she had to be in to complete her scheme: “The influences of slavery had had the same effect on me that they had on other young girls; they had made me...
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...an as being tough and diligent, it gave American women of the 1700’s a hero that was feminine. A white mother that was able to kill numerous Native Americans and then turn in their scalps for money was a champion, and this gave early American women an allowance to have a chip on their shoulder, a trait that never went away.
During the 1700’s and 1800’s white women were used in many ways to get a writer’s message across. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, white women of the North were targeted as a key audience. In “Young Goodman Brown”, they are shown as a loving, caring wife representing purity. In “The Captivity of Hannah Dustan, they are shown as a strong, independent mother. These three pieces are of great cultural significance because of the way they situate white women, and each captures a view that society placed upon them during early American history.
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