An interesting narrative of the life of olaudah equiano essay
He is prone to explaining his state of mind just as often as the state of affairs, giving readers a very personal insight into how he was affected by his trials. He expresses righteous indignation on multiple occasions, which reveals his passion. It was this quality that made him an effective abolitionist later in life. He experiences religion in a very personal, intimate way, and seems to verge on the dramatic in regard to this aspect of his life. For example, when he is onboard a ship where the men blaspheme and carouse, he nearly commits suicide in his despair.
He also shows a touch of hubris, tending to inflate the importance of his actions, and to fashion episodes in the book around his own heroic deeds and character. By the end of the work, it appears that he has done just that - he is assured in an identity that is fully his own, and not beholden to any particular creed.
The most interesting aspect of Equiano's character is that he is both a mainstream citizen of Britain, and an outsider to it. Equiano was born in Africa although recent scholarship suggests he was born in South Carolina, he is still of African descent , but considered himself a Londoner.
After all, he spent most of his adult life in the British empire. He retained a sense of his African heritage, culture, history, and value system but wholeheartedly embraced those of the Britons as well. He even converted to Christianity, and joined the Methodist church. He was a slave for many years, but earned his manumission by committing to capitalist ideals of business.
While free, he even took the position of overseer on a Jamaica plantation, a position that implicitly supports slavery. However, his race precluded his full immersion into European society, and denied him a true identity. Throughout his narrative, he asserts his multicultural voice and perspective, which embraces both of those sides. He takes pains to avoid insulting or too harshly criticizing his readers, but makes sure they are aware of the true horrors in which they are complicit.
Overall, Equiano straddles his two worlds as best as he can in a century that was keen on reinforcing boundaries in the areas of religion, gender, and race. How does Equiano establish his credentials for his readers? Why does he do this?
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Equiano, like Frederick Douglass nearly a century after him, took pains to establish his credentials as a truthful, Christian, and reputable man. The first way he does this is by including letters and documentation in the front of the Narrative , all of which attest to his veracity and morals. Further, a frontispiece was fashioned by a renowned artist, showing Equiano holding an open Bible. Lastly, he included in several editions of the book a list of its subscribers, a list that included some of the most well-known and influential men and women of the day.
In subsequent editions of his work, he explicitly confronts some of the accusations the press had leveled against him, revealing how important it is that he be taken as honest. His reasons for doing this were two-fold. First, it often proved necessary for slaves or former slaves to gain the support and affirmation of prominent white society figures in order to get their works published and popularized.
The included letters are important because they in essence legitimize the text for his contemporary British readers. However, he also stresses his honesty because if his readers accept him as virtuous, they will be more likely to hear his plea for abolition. Equiano's Christianity plays an important role here, for it would have recommended his morality to British society, and hence furthered his chances of success.
Why did the mission to Sierra Leon fail, and what was Equiano's role within that endeavor?
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What does he learn from it? The brainchild of a British philanthropist, the British government's endeavor to recolonize Sierra Leone ultimately failed and caused damage to Equiano's reputation. The mission seemed doomed from the beginning; Equiano was almost immediately struck by the ineptitude of the government agent he was working with. He remarked that this man ignored his wishes to prudently limit the number of passengers, and instead brought more onboard. The black people lived in miserable accommodations, and lacked basic necessities. Equiano suggests that this was due to waste or corruption, since the provisions had been paid for, but were not available.
Olaudah Equiano Essay | Bartleby
When they arrived at Sierra Leone, "at that season of the year it is impossible to cultivate the lands; their provisions therefore were exhausted before they could reap any benefit from agriculture," and many of them died Equiano does not entirely blame the government for the failure, but does see a great deal of mismanagement and poor planning. Unfortunately for him, he was the victim of aspersions because of its failure. He even wrote a letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury explaining that he acted with "the most perfect fidelity and the greatest assiduity" in discharging his duties He asked to be compensated for the money he personally invested in the plan, and was thankfully awarded a large sum.
It is important that Equiano did not allow himself to be taken advantage of; his inclusion of this episode is a testament to his firm conviction in his own intelligence, capabilities, and manhood. He learned through this episode the limits of government intervention, which perhaps explains why he is bringing his case to the general public through a book.
What happened to equiano in the chapters before the selection in our book. With whom does equiano say he would exchange places with.
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He also expresses his growing ease with the European culture he initially found so strange and frightening: "I ceased to feel those apprehensions and alarms which had taken such strong possession of me when I first came among the Europeans" p. As his time with Pascal progresses, Equiano professes a growing attachment to his master and a desire to "imbibe" and "imitate" the English culture in which he is immersed p.
He can "now speak English tolerably well" and "embrace[s] every occasion of improvement. They become, in a sense, patrons to Equiano, not only treating him kindly but also supporting his education and his interest in Christianity by sending him to school. The Guerins are also instrumental in persuading Pascal to allow Equiano to be baptized into the church. Equiano continues his studies and his religious development independently whenever possible, but his visits to England are always temporary, as he returns to sea with his captain whenever Pascal and the ship are ready for a new voyage.
The journeys are always fraught with danger, and he describes numerous skirmishes and sieges throughout the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and West Indian Oceans.