Literary Analysis of 'Twelve Years a Slave' | My Paper Hub
The book “12 Years a Slave,” w...
The book “12 Years a Slave,” which was written in the year 1853, is a
story that narrates the encounters of a black Citizen of New York, Solomon
Northup, who was kidnapped in the City of Washington in 1841 and sold to work
to work in a coffee plantation. Northup was later rescued in 1853. Solomon
Northup was born as a free black man, enticed to the south, kidnapped, as well
as sold into slavery. The narrative of “Twelve Years a Slave” is outstanding as
a significant piece of literature relating to slavery because it was written
from the standpoint of a free man, who was enslaved for twelve years. This paper
reflects on the traumatic occurrences of Northup’s kidnapping, along with his
dehumanizing as well as cruel treatment as a slave in coffee fields at the
heart of Louisiana. “Twelve Years a slave, as a slave narrative, gives an
insight into the effects of slavery to the society, and its cruelty to human beings,
with the aim of enlightening all generations on its shortcomings on moral
“Twelve Years a Slave” is a slave narrative. Slave narratives are a
distinctive literary tradition where previously enslaved people narrate their
experiences as slaves, as well as what they went through for the period of
their enslavement. In “Twelve Years a Slave,” the author states that “My aim is
to provide an honest and truthful account of facts: to explain my life’s story,
without any exaggeration…” Therefore, this shows that the account of this story
is from actual experiences that the author had during his 12 years of slavery.
The significance of slave narratives is to convert the audiences’ or readers’
hearts as well as minds to the basis of antislavery by means of revealing how
slavery demoralized and misrepresented the major institutions on which the
United States of America was founded upon, that is, representative democracy,
capitalism, Christianity, as well as marriage and the family. The corrupting manipulation
of slavery on both the marriage as well as the family unit is the principal
theme in the story “Twelve Years a Slave.” When Northup says “I finally earned
by freedom back,” this implies that slave narratives correspond to
autobiographical descriptions of both the physical as well as spiritual journey
of the African-American citizens from slavery to freedom.
“Twelve Years a Slave” is an astoundingly precise as well as verifiable
story of the experience of a typical slave in the antebellum South. In this
slave narrative, the narrator, Solomon Northup provides fundamental facts in
relation to time, places, people, and the activities that took place. For
instance, Northup state that “after having drinks with the two men, I found
myself in the morning in total darkness as well as in chains.” This statement
shows how the bitter truth of Northup’s reality dawned on him, therefore making
the reader to pity him.” The authority in which he speaks with on all subjects
relating to his enslavement dares doubters to disprove his account. For
instance, when Solomon Northup makes accusations against the wicked trade in
slavery, he provides all the details of where he was kept captive, “ I was
locked up in a slave pen in.” This information from the story was necessary
during the trial that took place following the release of Northup from slavery.
“Twelve Years a Slave” serves as a long-lived denunciation of the
activities of “chattel slavery” or the enslavement of human beings. The
detailing of the abuses that Solomon Northup was made to suffer, as well as
those which he was forced to inflict on others. For instance, Northup asserts
“I was forced to whip Patsey…” The act of being compelled to do this and many
nasty things present a warning to every generation regarding the moral expenses
that the practice of slavery exacts from all the people who are involved. First
of all, there is a degradation of the person who is enslaved, as he or she was
forced to endure a lot of suffering from dreadful torments, as well as
maliciously robbed of this physical and emotional affluence. Through
participation in the acts of slavery, the master to the slave(s) is morally
disgraced as well as emotionally desensitized. The author states “the religion
of the slave-owner is made of hypocrisy, and the legacy of his family is denied
the fundamental human beauty such as love, impartiality, and integrity.”
Therefore, Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave” is remarkable for
representing to humanity a wickedness that was once an ordinary practice, as
well as for sounding a steady warning of the unpleasant effects of chattel
“Twelve Years a Slave” is a demonstration to the influence of the human
spirit as well as the lasting determination of hope. Solomon Northup was “tricked,
kidnapped, mistreated, separated from my family, as well as stripped of my
identity as a free person.” These things that Northup endured made him have
even more hope as, for all this time, Northup is never broken. Even during his
most terrible days of sorrow, living under the brutalities of Edwin Epps,
Solomon Northup never renounces the hope that a day will come when he will be a
free man again. In addition, he states, “I never lost faith on his friends,”
relentlessly giving an assurance that if he can just send a word to the North,
they will without a doubt come to rescue him from slavery. And they do not
fail. The touching journey of Solomon Northup is inspiring because in his
demonstration, there is proof that faith, as well as hope, can tolerate and
For women who were sold into slavery, bondage regularly consisted of an
extra pain: rape. Rape is a predominant theme in many slave narratives. Northup
describes the suffering of a fellow slave whose name was Patsey. He states, “My
master would come at night and rape Patsey over and again.” The story
euphemizes the assaults of Epps with traditionally acceptable expressions like
“lewd intentions.” However, the repercussions are apparent. “If she said a word
against the will of her master, the lash was made use of immediately so as to
make her subject to him.” In the meantime, she was continuously assaulted by
her mistress for the reason that she was “seducing” her master, Epps.
The most significant aspect of this narrative by Solomon Northup is its
clarity in relation to the functioning of the “strange society” as a system.
Northup writes that “chattel slavery brutalized both the master and the slave
alike.” Therefore, this explains why slave owners acted so monstrously, even in
opposition to their greatest financial interest. To them, “a dead slave was a
loss in investment.” Being encircled by atrocious human suffering on a day to
day basis, the owners of slaves became inured as well as desensitized to it. In
addition, Northup asserts “the cruelty of the slave-owners is not their fault,
but it is a system under which they live that is to be blamed.” The author also
consistently maintains that not all the slave-masters were wicked by defending
slave-owners such as William Ford. These people were not innately immoral, but
rather, “it is the manipulation of the unjust system that needlessly cultivates
an unfeeling as well as cruel spirit.”
In the pursuit for justice by Solomon Northup through his lawyer, the
defense that was provided by the slave-traders comes as a surprise to the
reader of this book. They falsely testified “I had on my free will consented to
sell myself into slavery.” They claimed to have engaged in a scam plot with
Northup that they would sell him into slavery, and then later secure his free
papers so as to share the proceeds from the sale with him. However, according
to him, “during that time, black people were not allowed to give testimonies in
the court.” Therefore, Northup’s testimony was never heard. This represents a
deliberate injustice in his quest to bring his captor to justice, leading to a
significant protest by many people.
In conclusion, Northup concludes his story by asserting “I do not have
comments regarding the issue of slavery.” By so doing, he presents the readers
with the “freedom” of forming their personal judgment regarding the subject of
slavery. The story provides the society with a vice that undermined the rights
of other human beings for a long period, and which should never be repeated.
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