Black Beauty

Topics: Classical conditioning, Anna Sewell, Horse Pages: 6 (2282 words) Published: June 27, 2011
Black Beauty is a realistic animal story completed and published by Anna Sewell in 1877. The novel Black Beauty focuses on the animal itself and uses the black stallion as the first-person narrator. Anna Sewell didn’t give Black Beauty human traits but instead presented him as an animal. The novel is a fictional autobiography of a gentle horse named Black Beauty, which drew on her memories of the abusive treatment she had seen.

Anna Sewell, the author of the novel, wants to promote the humane treatment of the horses as she grew up relying on horses. She also opposed the idea of tormenting the animals for pleasure and hunting for sport. When Anna was fourteen, Anna sprained her ankle. Either the sprained ankle was treated badly, or she suffered from some degenerative bone disease; Anna could never walk again. Lacking the use of her feet, Anna grew to love the horses more than she was naturally inclined to, and she became totally appalled at the careless and cruel treatment the horses received at the hands of their owners.

In 1871, a doctor announced that Anna had only eighteen months to live. She was very weak, but determined to write a book “to induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses’. Five years later, she was still working on Black Beauty. She was so weak that she could write only a few lines at a time; it was her mother who copied Anna’s penciled writing. During Anna’s funeral, her mother ordered that the uncomfortable bearing-reins should be removed from all the horses in the funeral train. Unfortunately, Anna never saw the eventual success of her book. She died on 25 April 1878, a few months after its publication.

Black Beauty was distributed not only by booksellers, but also by campaigners for the animal rights. This novel served as an instrument in changing the attitude of the people towards horses and other domestic animals as well. Analysis

Anna Sewell used Physiological Psychology approach in her novel Black Beauty. Physiological Psychology is the study of biological basis of behavior and mental processes. She specifically employed Ivan Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning and B.F. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning.

According to Dizon, P.B., Fulgencio, A.B., et. al., (2003) Classical Conditioning is a process in which a mental stimulus is paired with a stimulus that triggers a reflexive response until the neutral stimulus alone elicited a similar response. My Breaking In:

Next came the saddle, but that was not half so bad; my master put it on my back very gently, whilst Old Daniel held my head; he then made the girths fast under my body, patting and talking to me all the time; then I had a few oats, then a little leading about, and this he did everyday till I began to look for the oats and the saddle. At length, one morning my master got on my back and rode me around the meadow on the soft grass. It certainly did feel queer; but I must say I felt rather proud to carry my master, and as he continued to ride my every day, I soon became accustomed to it. (p. 12) This is the part where Farmer Grey, Beauty’s master, is breaking in Black Beauty. The everyday patting, talking, and eating of oats given by Farmer Grey served as the conditioned stimulus until Beauty began to look for the oats and the saddle. According to Dizon, P.B., Fulgencio, A.B., et. al., (2003) Burrhus Frederick Fitzgerald underscored that during the instrumental conditioning, an organism learns a response by operating on its environment. Skinner’s primary aim was to analyze how behavior is changed by its consequences. My Early Home:

…We were all fond of him, and my mother loved him very much. When she saw him at the gate, she would neigh with joy, and trot up to him. He would pat and stroke her and say, ‘Well, old Pet, and how is your little Darkie?’ I was a dull black, so he called me Darkie; then he would give me a piece of bread, which was very good, and sometimes he brought a carrot for my mother....
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