Free forced womanhood stories

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White abolitionists urged slave writers to follow well-defined conventions and formulas to produce what they saw as one of the most potent propaganda weapons in their arsenal. Yet for the writers themselves, the opportunity to tell their stories constituted something more personal: a means to write an identity within a country that legally denied their right to exist as human beings.

Free forced womanhood stories

Working cautiously within the genre expectations developed by and for their white audiences, highly articulate African American writers such as Douglass and Jacobs found ways to individualize their narratives and to speak in their own voices in a quest for selfhood that had to be balanced against the aims and values of their audiences. Harriet Jacobs A comparison of the narratives of Douglass and Jacobs demonstrates the full range of demands and situations that slaves could experience.

Some of the similarities in the two s are a result of the prescribed formats that governed the publication of their narratives. Slave narrators also needed to present their credentials as good Christians while testifying to the hypocrisy of their supposedly pious owners. Both Douglass and Jacobs included some version of all these required elements yet also injected personalized nuances that transformed the formulas for their own purposes.

Douglass was a publicly acclaimed figure from almost the earliest days of his career as a speaker and then a writer. Harriet Jacobs, on the other hand, was never well-known. His narrative was the culmination of Douglass based his narrative on the sermon. Harriet Jacobs, on the other hand, began her narrative aroundafter she had lived as a fugitive slave in the North for ten years. She began working privately on her narrative not long after Cornelia Grinnell Willis purchased her freedom and gave her secure employment as a Jacobs modeled her narrative on the sentimental or domestic novel.

Douglass was a public speaker who could boldly self-fashion himself as hero of his own adventure. In his first narrative, he combined and equated the achievement of selfhood, Free forced womanhood stories, freedom, and voice. The resulting lead character of his autobiography is a boy, and then a young man, who is robbed of family and community and who gains an identity not only through his escape from Baltimore to Massachusetts but through his Douglass focuses on the struggle to achieve manhood and freedom. Jacob focuses on sexual exploitation. Harriet Jacobs, on the other hand, was enmeshed in all the trappings of community, family, and domesticity.

As Jacobs pointedly put it, " Slavery is bad for menbut it is far more terrible for women.

Free forced womanhood stories

Like Douglass, Jacobs was determined to fight to the death for her freedom. Pregnant with the child of a white lover of her own choosing, fifteen year old Jacobs reasoned erroneously that her condition would spur her licentious master to sell her and her. Thus throughout her narrative, Jacobs is looking not only for freedom but also for a secure home for her children. They never lost their determination to gain not only freedom from enslavement but also respect for their individual humanity and that of other bondsmen and women.

Their titles alone can show students that both writers are making highly conscious decisions about self-presentation and narrative strategy. Is it believable, given all the prefatory matter by white sponsors that accompanies the narratives? A particularly interesting gender comparison can be made of Douglass and Jacobs through examining the identical disguises that they wore as they maneuvered their way to freedom in southern port cities that were their homes Baltimore and Edenton, NC, respectively.

This costume enabled Douglass to board a boat and sail away to freedom. In Compare disguises. By bringing together other specific scenes from each text, students can follow, for a time, what Anne G. Beyond gender and circumstances, students can see the narratives of Jacobs and Douglass as remarkable works of both literature and history. In these arenas, what do the narratives show us when compared to other works of their time? Slave narratives and students. What do they tell us about life in our own time? Another way to study the narratives fruitfully is to see the many different expressive purposes they embody.

They functioned in their own time as propaganda as well as autobiography, as Jeremiad as well as melodrama. Can they show students how to imagine their own selfhood and circumstances through writing personal stories that takes them, through trials and struggles, on a journey Free forced womanhood stories freedom and fulfillment?

Can the slave narratives show students how to argue forcefully for what they believe in, how to attack major problems in their society? Few writers illustrate better, through more powerful voices, the threat to as well as the promise of the American dream of freedom. This is perhaps the most important legacy they Free forced womanhood stories left for students to ponder. After the Civil War ended, the narratives written by fugitive slaves inevitably lost much of their attraction for most readers.

The most important of these early historians, Ulrich B. In Benjamin Quarles published the first modern biography of Douglass, which was followed in by the first volume of what was ultimately a 5 volume work from Phillip Foner: Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass.

Free forced womanhood stories

These texts were part of the new consciousness that began the Civil Rights movement in the s, and the black studies programs that followed in the s and 70s brought about more re-evaluations asserting the centrality of the slave narratives to American Free forced womanhood stories history.

Incidents began receiving new interest with a edition published by Harcourt Brace. Davis and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. William S. William L. Andrews's definitive To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, marked a ificant new stage in the study of the written antebellum slave narrative. Andrews points out that Frederick Douglass's autobiography also "novelizes," unlike the narrative, arguing that both Jacobs and Douglass's works exhibit "the deliberate fictionalizing of texts in the s and s, notably through the use of reconstructed dialogue.

Douglass chastised fugitive slave writers who told how they escaped, as he believed it gave away secrets that slave catchers could use. Anne B. She is author of two books in southern studies and editor of three plantation memoirs, as well as co-editor of The Companion to Southern Literaturewhich received the National Library Association's best reference award in She is also a senior consultant for the NEH award winning website, Scribblingwomen. Illustration credits. To cite this essay: MacKethan, Lucinda. National Humanities Center. All rights reserved. Revised: April nationalhumanitiescenter.

Illustration credits To cite this essay: MacKethan, Lucinda. Frederick Douglass. Harriet Jacobs. Title .

Free forced womanhood stories

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