Brief 190151: Infusion Comparison and Contrast

The two samples exemplify aggressively contrasting tones in the attack to colonisation, bondage, and the alleged “mastery” of the European white man’s society over and above that of his imperial subjugates. The first extract of Olaudah Equiano’sAn Interesting Narrativeinside informations the freed Equiano’s history of the establishment of bondage, deprecating but carefully calculated to integrate new positions on the portion of the mostly affluent, educated “master” category.An Interesting Narrativeis speedy to denounce bondage as an immorality, but portrays the said moral evildoing of bondage in the visible radiation of a clang of fortunes. Matthew Gregory Lewis’Journal of a West India Proprietor, Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaicaexamines the life of slaves and takes on a sympathetic tone, albeit one of a talker torn between the traditional establishment of bondage and the comparing of servitude with other labour adversities such as those in imperial Great Britain. Both extracts address the sad fortunes environing black society, but merely Equiano’s composing finds a gloss of aspiration and optimism, whereas Lewis’ overall subject gleans toward one of commiseration and patronization for a race enveloped in an ineluctable societal morass. Ironically, it is this pessimism that binds Lewis in the position of a society based on the racial system of maestro and slave.

Both writers question the innate individuality of the freed black adult male in their plants, analyzing in their ain methods the cogency of the black freedman’s station in society. Both utilize self-cognizance of the “negro” , both in his individuality as freed from bondage and his individuality as compared to the non-black adult male. Equiano and Lewis both express compunction in the blazing unfairnesss of black society, the former keening the “ [ corrupting ] tendency” the slave trade has on men’s heads [ 1 ] , while the latter rues the internal association the black adult male has with the term “slave” and its resulting deduction of the white man’s position as “master” [ 2 ] . Equiano, a freed black adult male, writes from the position of an educated single aware of the societal unfairnesss, holding realized the human potency to exceed the natal societal boundaries of his clip. Michael Gomez, writer ofExchanging Our State Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum Southwrote, “free inkinesss [ frequently ] chose to project their batch with those in legal bondage, after sober appraisal revealed that their ain position was unstable if non illusory” [ 3 ] . The freshly established individuality of the freed black adult male created a societal anomalousness, as society made no adjustment for racial equality—only the abolishment of the establishment of bondage.

Lewis, on the other manus, writes from the position of a adult male whose societal position in his predating coevals warrants an air of understanding, as if felt from the vantage of an grownup comprehending the guiltless ignorance of kids. The writer recalled the joy and renewed verve of the black community he visited, though he questioned “whether the pleasance of the Blacks was sincere” [ 4 ] . Lewis describes the community as holding “all talked together, American ginseng, danced, shouted, and, in the force of their gesticulations, tumbled over each other, and rolled upon the land, ” go oning until “one in the forenoon, ” when merely prior to kiping, Lewis could “hear them still shouting and singing” [ 5 ] .

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Lewis’ history was in direct contrast to that of Equiano, whose “poor Creole negro” familiarity told him “melancholy narratives of himself” ; more specifically, Equiano reminisces of the “artless tale” which rendered him “feeling the merely cause Moses had in righting his brother against the Egyptian” [ 6 ] . Where Equiano empathizes with the predicament of a “poor Creole negro” abused by white society, a sense of guilt is evoked when Lewis observes the avidity of the inkinesss under his estate’s employ to presume the familiar function of bondage instilled by old ages of servitude. While Equiano does non indemnify the former slave proprietor of his tenuous place as oppressor, the writer posits that society’s functions are imposed by the “mistaken avarice” of the bondage establishment, theorizing that “had the chases of those work forces been different, they might hold been as generous, as tender-hearted and merely, as they are unfeeling, predatory and cruel” [ 7 ] . Lewis, on the other manus, about discounts the malignity of slave trade, chew overing the hilarity he observed upon meeting the “human existences [ that were his ] slaves, ” whom he believed to be “much more comfy [ in servitude ] than the laborers of Great Britain” [ 8 ] . Howard Johnson echoes these sentiments in his noting that “although lawfully free, [ even ] liberated Africans” experienced, “in of import respects, harsher [ conditions ] ” in employment than “in legal slavery” [ 9 ] .

Both work forces observe the ignorance that surrounds the several black societies which surround them, and both address the issue of ignorance as a agency of subjection. Ignorance plays a big portion in dividing both writers from the topics they observe ; the statement both writers face respects the worlds inkinesss face and the cogency of oppugning the unfairnesss into which inkinesss are born. Equiano states that though slaves may be more content and even “useful [ if ] humbled to the status of beasts, ” they would non be any better off if “suffered to bask the privileges of men” and therefore cognizant of the province of their society [ 10 ] . The writer continues, asseverating that harmonizing to “the freedom which diffuses wellness and prosperity throughout Britain answers” his reader ; when work forces are made slaves they are “deprived of half their virtuousness, ” and nevertheless harmless their ignorance renders their state of affairs, they are therefore capable to “fraud, rapine, and cruelty” ( Ibid ) . The typical freed and sometimes-educated black adult male in the 18Thursdaycentury was astounded to happen that “the negro’s state of affairs was so bad” and “did non cognize how [ he ] could digest it, ” astonished that inkinesss “did non lift up for themselves” [ 11 ] . Lewis’ position was similar to a grade, contending that “Juliet was incorrect in stating ‘What’s in a name’” ; no affair the label of “free man” , the mentality of a black adult male mired in bondage constricts his human autonomies irrespective of the absence of a on the job establishment [ 12 ] . Harmonizing to Gomez, the mentality of servitude was implemented through “the debatable procedure through which” a alone Diaspora African “identity was forged during the period of legal enslavement” ; so engrained was the individuality of the slave that freedom motions trying “to transcend cultural and societal differences in the pursuit for freedom achieved neither [ their ] ultimate aim nor the devising of a consolidative principle” among different categories of inkinesss in society [ 13 ] .

Scholar Kadiatu Kanneh cites Manichean Theory as postulated by Abdul R. JanMohamed in herAfrican Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, Pan-Africanism and Black Literatures, explicating the predicament of the colonial native much as Equiano perceives the Creole. She explains that:

“Manichean theory demands the arrant negation of the indigen as an evil taint

from which the colonist is perfectly separate. This exists manus in manus with the absolute

necessity of the native as foil to European luster and civilisation, as the agencies

to White privilege. JanMohamed highlights a clear contradiction in colonial footings,

saying ‘the colonial system at the same time will the obliteration and the generation

of the natives’” [ 14 ] .

Kanneh postulated “the declaration of one theoretical quandary creates another in the kingdom of colonial paradox” ; holding dispossessed the indigens of land and political self-government, Europeans such as Lewis “speak self-consciously of humanitarianism, fraternity, autonomy and democracy” [ 15 ] . However, harmonizing to JanMohamed, if “the coloniser pursues these theories to their ultimate decision through a civilizing mission, colonial authorization is necessarily destroyed” [ 16 ] . Therefore, while Lewis may experience “humiliated at the moment” he is regarded as maestro, he can non and does non see the inkinesss as anything more than kids as he is most likely subconsciously cognizant that his higher moral land would therefore be compromised and laterality, nevertheless nominal, would be lost. Lewis’ self-conflict is reflected best in his sentiments toward the “eager” black retainer that addressed Lewis as maestro, as Lewis was “tempted to state him—‘Do non state that once more ; state that you are my negro, but do non name yourself my slave’” [ 17 ] .

Though sympathising with the black predicament, Lewis’ respect for the inkinesss and the linguistic communication antecedently noted with which he described the state of affairs revealed the struggle of ethical motives he experienced. Equiano, a freed black adult male, felt no such struggle. Equiano uses Biblical imagination to arouse the highest sense of empathy for his speculated white readers in his moral statements, reflected early in the transition in the allusion to Moses and the predicament of the Jews. Equiano insists that racial unfairness “violates that first natural right of world, equality and independence, and gives one adult male a rule over his chaps which God could ne’er mean, ” therefore implicating old ages before his clip JanMohamed’s Manichean Theory of colonialism. Through scrutiny of such linguistic communication, allusions, and mechanisms, it becomes apparent that while both authors are honest in their purpose, merely Equiano manifests the thought of transcendency, while Lewis remains stuck in a master-slave frame of head.


Gomez, Michael Angelo. ( 1998 )Exchanging Our State Marks: The Transformation ofAfrican Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1998.

Johnson, Howard. ( 1991 )The Bahamas From Slavery to Servitude, 1783-1933.Manchester: Macnhester U P.

Kanneh, Kadiatu. ( 1998 )African Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography,Pan-Africanism and Black Literatures. London: New York Routledge P.



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