The Brutal & Degrading Treatment Of Slaves In The Book “Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl” By Harriet Jacobs

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Slavery is the practice or system of owning another person, a slave, in which principles of property law are applied. Slavery allows individuals to own, buy, and trader other individuals, the slave would remain under the control of the owner indefinitely or until a debt is paid based on an agreed term. Slaves are forced to preform hard labor for no compensation. Slaves were typically enslaved at birth, their treatment varied but was generally brutal and degrading, they were often physically and sexually abused, and mistreated. Slavery has existed since the earliest civilization in one form or another, there are even evidence of slavery that predate written records, and in the earliest records it has been traced as far back to 1860 BC in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi, which refers to slavery as an established institution with written laws to regulate it as it was common among ancient people.

Slavery was known in almost every ancient civilization and society such as Sumer, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire to name a few. Slavery dominated many different societies, and civilizations, at some point the institution reached a global scale, where trade of slaves was intercontinental. Although slavery dominated many different societies and civilizations throughout history, this form of slavery has been formally abolished and is very rare today. The abolition of slavery was immensely attributed to many runaway brave slaves that set a mission in their life to write their accounts of slavery on paper and published it for the world to read and witness their stories.

One of these brave writers is Harriet Jacobs, an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed, and later became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. In her book, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, Harriet Jacobs describes the brutal and degrading treatment of slaves in the south, the despair and hardship they endured, the Struggle for freedom, and the effects of slavery on families, communities, and social relationships. In addition, Harriet Jacobs also describes the effects of Slavery on the slave owners, and how families of slave owners were torn apart as a result of infidelities and failed relationships. Slavery’s demoralizing, and destructive way of life effect all who take part in it, both the involuntary members of slavery and the voluntary proprietors of this cruel institution called slavery.

Linda Brent, the main character in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl who is Harriet Jacobs in reality, recognizes freedom as a purpose to set herself and her children free from slavery. In her journey for freedom, Linda Brent starts her childhood as a normal kid, she doesn’t know she would be a slave until she is six when he mother dies, and she goes to live with her mother’s young mistress, a slave-owner but a nice lady who teaches Linda how to sew and read. Linda’s earliest years were not unpleasant, but this would all change when she reaches 12, and her mistress dies, Linda is sold to the five-year-old daughter of her mistress’ sister, but since she is too young to make decisions, her father, Dr. Flint, took control of Linda. Dr flint was a very cruel and filled with misery, Linda’s years to come would be filled with mental and psychological torment as she fights to free herself and her children from Dr. Flint. From a very young age Linda is harassed, and abused by Dr. Flint, she was forbidden to love anyone other than him, and made clear to here that she must be subject to his will in all things; Dr. Flint constantly subjects her to sexual advances, and harassment.

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Feed up with the constant and daily torments she endures by Dr. Flint, Linda devises a plan to give herself to a white man named Mr. Sands, a man that had always treated her well, and she had eventually developed feelings for. Her plan was to bear a child from Mr. Sands in effort to divert the attentions of Dr. Flint from her, and in hope that Dr. Flint would sell or free her from his possession. Her plan worked to some degree, but the cruel Dr. Flint turns even more vicious, he offers her to submit to him sexually, or he would send her out to do fieldwork on the plantation as punishment. Linda has heard and knows of the horrors of slavery, dwelling on the theme of mothers being divided from their children and any sense of individuality or humanity in a slave being routed out by greedy slaveholders. Linda worries about her child’s future, knowing that the Dr. might come after her son and her soon to be born second child.

When Dr. Flint learns that she is pregnant again, he becomes even more angry and insane, insulting her and beating her. Linda at this moment knows that the time has come for her to try to find means of escape for herself and her children, so she formulates a plan and setoff on series of escapes and hide in an effort to flee to the north where it’s known to be free of slavery. In the years of her hiding and escaping from place to place, Dr. Flint continues to renewed search to capture and enslave her. Linda eventually manages to escape and earn her freedom after years of misery, captivity, and trying to avoid being captured when on the run. In Her free life in the north, Harriet Jacobs was able to meet several slavery abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and journalist the likes of L. Maria Child and Amy Post that convinced and helped Harriet to write and publish her autobiography the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in 1861 secretly at night, in a nursery in the Willis’ Idlewild estate. In her publication, Harriet includes several chapters detailing the ways in which slaves were punished and brutalized by the lash and pained to the point where they would allow their masters to have their way with their wives and daughters, she describes the cruel punishments and treatment as animalizing, and human degradation. Her description of the slave suffering is so dehumanizing, she curses the institution of slavery for making her wish that her own son would die instead of living through the humiliating suffering.

Slavery is de-constructive to all involved in it. In her book the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet also writes her account of how slavery’s demoralizing and destructive way of life effect all who take part in it, both the involuntary members of slavery and the voluntary proprietors of this cruel institution called slavery. She describes the means in how families are torn apart, not just families raised in slavery but the masters family as well. She not only details the mistreatment of a black women sexually, she also makes clear how a white woman could exploit the brutalized black male for her own sexual satisfaction. In the book Linda depicts her situation graphically as a young female slave caught between the lustful, manipulative Dr. Flint, and his emotionally insecure wife.

The constant and daily torments from Dr. Flint had its effect not only on Linda, but also on Mrs. Flint, who in turn directs her anger, jealousy, and hatred back towards Linda. Linda describes how the institution of slavery caused the Flint family so much grief, hatred, and tore apart what could have been a safe and happy marriage, and how she had to endure the shame and degradation of sexual exploitation by her master. Harriet in her writings describes the patriarchal system that enables white men to exercise complete control over their wives, woman are considers property and privilege, slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks, sexual exploitation of enslaved black women caused the wife’s of these slave holders to be jealous and also suffer, it ruins the relationship filling it with an uncertainty of fidelity, it turns the white fathers cruel and sensual, the sons violent and licentious, and contaminates their daughters.

Although Harriet herself was not subjected to the brutal physical abuse she describes of other slaves, she was forced to endure extreme mental and psychological torment in her fight for freedom from the Dr. Flint. Her early education and her ability to read allowed her possibilities of freedom in the North, and the knowledge to write her accounts of slavery on paper and published it for the world to read and witness. Her writings showed the world Slavery’s demoralizing, and destructive way of life and how it effect all who take part in it, both the involuntary members of slavery and the voluntary proprietors of this cruel institution called slavery. Publications like the Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl were very important for American abolitionists in the movements to end slavery and women’s rights.

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The Brutal & Degrading Treatment Of Slaves In The Book “Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl” By Harriet Jacobs. (2020, July 15). WritingBros. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-brutal-degrading-treatment-of-slaves-in-the-book-incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-by-harriet-jacobs/
“The Brutal & Degrading Treatment Of Slaves In The Book “Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl” By Harriet Jacobs.” WritingBros, 15 Jul. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-brutal-degrading-treatment-of-slaves-in-the-book-incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-by-harriet-jacobs/
The Brutal & Degrading Treatment Of Slaves In The Book “Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl” By Harriet Jacobs. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-brutal-degrading-treatment-of-slaves-in-the-book-incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-by-harriet-jacobs/> [Accessed 19 Aug. 2022].
The Brutal & Degrading Treatment Of Slaves In The Book “Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl” By Harriet Jacobs [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Jul 15 [cited 2022 Aug 19]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-brutal-degrading-treatment-of-slaves-in-the-book-incidents-in-the-life-of-a-slave-girl-by-harriet-jacobs/
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