The Age of Exploration: the Message Behind the Words

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The Age of Exploration: The Message behind Words

The Age of Exploration marked the start of European colonization and also represents several different discoveries of the world. “The Beautiful and Green Land” by Christopher Columbus is writing a letter to the treasurer of Spain in an effort to report his findings of the exploration, but also to explain why the land he found is valuable. “The Horrors of Conquest” by Bartholome speaks of the awful treatment of the Indians. The mindless bloodshed that takes place there is unlike anything he has seen so far. “The Case of the Amistead” depicts the African seizing control of a ship, killing most of the crew before eventually being captured. Finally,” The Captured Africans” Talks of the peaceful encounter with the Africans after their trial for the transpired in the previous article “The Case of the Amistead”. Each of these works presents a different choice of diction, tone and intended message about their separate events to their respectable audience to gain what they desire. Originally, Columbus was supposed to be on a journey to Asia, due to the journals of the explorer Marco Polo. After a difficult trip that almost required him to go back empty handed, he eventually did reach new land, but not what he intended. He wanted to sail to Asia but instead found himself on an unknown island, which he proceeded to name "La Spanola". It seems that Columbus attempts to make up for his folly of not being able to reach Asia on the route he was so sure of. However rather than to consider this a waste of effort and money, he attempts to present the island as a suitable substitution. His letters back to the country of Spain assert a certain value to the land which is seen through his diction. Columbus says that "In it there are so many harbors on the sea coast, beyond comparison with others which I had known in Christendom, and numerous rivers, good and large, which is marvelous”. Essentially, with so many harbors on the coast, it would be easy for Spain to send more ships in order to continue the settlements. The term “marvelous” and phrase “beyond comparison” enhance the promise of the land. Columbus continues this trend by remarking on several other features such as the trees, claiming that “and I am told that they never lose their foliage, which I can believe, for I saw them as great and beautiful in Spain in May”. Columbus, wanting to prove that the land would be fine for settlements, also says that “La Spanola is marvelous, the sierras and the mountains and the plains and the meadows and the lands are so beautiful and rich for planting and sowing and for livestock of every sort, and for building towns and villages”. The features of the land make the possibility of colonization easier.

The minerals of the land are another key point that Columbus attempts to present about the land’s value. Early on in the letter, Columbus asserts that “Upcountry there are many mines of metals, and the population is innumerable”. Through his use of the term “innumerable” he is able to leave the possible number of mines up to the reader to formulate a numerical value. However, he is trying to imply that there is a great number to suit the development of land. Columbus also remarks of the rivers of the land claiming “so the rivers, many and great, and good streams, most of which bear gold”. Once again, he does not give an exact number but through the word “many” he implies that there are several good streams for the use. The aspect of the gold being found within the waters adds to the allure of the island. Columbus continues to create and enhance to value of the land further stating, “It is a desirable land and once seen, is never to be relinquished and in it, although of all I have take possession for their Highness and all are more richly supplied than I know or could tell.” To support this statement further, Columbus states that “I believe that I have found rhubarb and cinnamon, and I...
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