About slavery Essay

The concept of slavery in the 18th century was without a doubt an incredibly horrendous phase in history in which society will always remember and strive to move past upon. Harriet Jacobs author of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, uses the pseudonym Linda Brent to depict her experiences as a slave in the 18th century. Brent’s life consisted of being sold to numerous plantation owners, handed down generation after generation, and ultimately being led into freedom where she could finally thrive with her children safe and sound. Linda Brent, was treated very differently by various owners depending on the new owners’ gender. The concept of gender in this writing plays a very important role in the ways how Brent is treated by different slave owners.

Originally, linda was born into a wealthy home where she lived comfortably with her parents and slave brothers and sisters. Her family was content and was able to support themselves until Brent’s mother dies unfortunately which influenced the start of Brent’s degrading childhood. After Brent’s mother passed, she was passed down to her mother’s mistress to take care of her and treat her like family. Although her mistress was not a slave owner, Brent often offered her services because of how compassionate and caring her mistress was to Brent, “My mistress was so kind to me that I were always glad to do her bidding, and proud to labor for her as much as my young years would permit”(10) Brent first learned she was a slave through the passing of her mother, after turning to her mistress to take care of her. Her time never consisted of harsh labor, abuse or any sort of punishment that was demeaning and or some sort of belittlement.

Although Brent never knew of harsh treatment through living with her mother’s mistress, that soon would change after the unfortunate passing of her caregiver. After the death of her au pair, Brent and her brother William were handed over as property to Dr. Flint which ultimately lead to more of her misery. Brent was treated horrendously by her new owner, who showed absolutely no remorse nor compassion in retrospects to how he treated his slaves. Dr. Flint had an ulterior motive, rather than force Brent into harsh manual labor, his goal was to pursue Brent into a romantic relationship which was strictly sexual. Dr. Flint idolized the concept of power in which he did not directly want to sleep with Brent, rather than just submit to him under his power over her. Dr. Flint found amusement through degrading his servants and belittling all in order to feel powerful and dominant. “Dr. Flint was an epicure. The cook never sent a dinner to his table without fear and trembling; for if there happened to be a dish not to his liking, he would either order her to be whipped, or compel her to eat every mouthful of it in his presence.” (14) This overuse of power was to depict his authoritarian dictator like control over his numerous slaves and servants. Brent attempted to keep a distance in order to rid any sort of assault or harassment brought upon her from Dr. Flint. The treatment that Brent underwent under Flint’s supervision was cruel, demeaning and quite atrocious. Dr. Flint made numerous advances towards Brent, but she fought back and did not tolerate his various attempts at getting Brent into bed under the pretense that power over her will amuse him.

Dr. Flint is not too faithful to his wife, Mrs. Flint which ultimately turns her extremely jealous and she takes it out on Brent unfortunately. Mrs. Flint is verbally abusing to all of her slaves and servants, which adds to Brent’s misery and disarray. Female slave owners can be just as abusing as male slave owners. One difference opposing genders have on slave ownership is that the male owners have ultimate power which leads into sexual abuse and degrading in which cannot be repaired. Female slave owners have just as much power as male owners, but they dont over use the power to such extent as males. Mrs. Flint felt challenged when her husband attempted to make sexual advances towards Brent, which ultimately led to harsher punishments and more verbal abuse. Mrs. Flint demonstrates how corrupt the slave system is in the 18th century. She is the ideal slave owner in which brutally abuses her slaves and servants to such a point where they are disfigured, demeaned and mentally broken. Mrs. Flint was a highly bespoked Christian church goer in which she idolized the bible, was threatened by the idea that Brent would take her husband away from her and a truly horrendous slave owner. Mrs. Flint’s husband, Dr. Flint made numerous sexual advantages towards Linda Brent in which, ”She felt that her marriage vows were desecrated, her dignity insulted; but she had no compassion for the poor victim of her husband’s perfidy. She pitied herself as a martyr; but she was incapable of feeling for the condition of shame and misery in which her unfortunate, helpless slave was placed.” (31) Mrs. Flint had no remorse, nor empathy towards the brunt of the scenario, Linda Brent, how she was forced into and tied into such a predicament. Mrs. Flint was more than affected mentally when she started to believe that her husband would cheat on her with one of the family servants and would defy the marriage vows, her dignity challenged and ultimately felt deprived of attention and hatred towards the individual she was most threatened by, Linda Brent.

Male slave owners through history overuse their power in which categorizes as immoral, unethical and corrupt behavior, but not in the case involving Mr. Sands. Mr. Sands is another fellow slave owner in which Linda Brent and himself developed a connection together where they both desired to be together but due to slave and ownership laws, they could not be together. The two found ways to be with each other, but unfortunately had numerous road blocks which caused many computations. The couple together resulted in having two children, benny and ellen. Unlike most slave owners, Mr. Sands treated the two children properly and protects them as much as possible. The overall perception Mr. Sands puts off in the novel is that he genuinely cares for Linda Brent, and feels like it's his responsibility to protect her from the greedy, impulsive, and disrespectful Dr. Flint. Even though Mr. Sands is a slave owner, he never believed that abusing his servants is the way to power. Sands, shows compassion to his fellow slaves and treats them like family, even though he expects them to continue to act as servants respecting his ever ask and desire. Mr. Sands has an incredible impact on Linda Brent’s life concerning her safety, her children's’ safety and the chances she has escaping captivity from Dr. Flint. “I thought he would revenge himself by selling me, and I was sure my friend, Mr. Sands, would buy me. He was a man of more generosity and feeling than my master, and I thought my freedom could be easily obtained from him.”(49) In order for Brent and Sands to be together, some sort of event would have needed to take place where Dr. Flint would be so upset that he would auction her off to the highest bigger and in hopes Sands would place a bid and take ownership of Brent. Brents’ motive for her actions was to insure that her and her children would be safe and taken care of if Dr. Flint was out of the picture. She believed that escaping custody of Dr. Flint and going North or hoping a life with a more gentle slave owner was the only way her and her children can be released from slavery.

Linda Brent faced some horrible treatment and abuse through the slavery system, which ultimately was the main cause of her despair and heartache of her youth to her adulthood. Male and female slave owners both had a major impact on Brent’s life in which led her to escape to her freedom in the north. The male slave owners had a mission to use female slaves as a punching bag and an easy sexual release in which was acquired through force and threat. Female slave owners mentally, physically and emotionally abused their slaves to a point where they were harmed exponentially where even therapy couldn't fix.

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