Feb. 25, 2013
Who were the real savages?
Benjamin Franklin once said “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” One of the largest barriers that we face to understand other cultures aside from our own is ignorance. To be ignorant of one another is to disregard their background, culture, language and ultimately their value as a human being. In Rowlandson’s “The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” and Benjamin Franklin’s “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North-America”, I explore two very different perspectives of Native Americans.
Mary Rowlandson’s account of her captivity by the Native Americans drew many references to the Bible. It is this unwavering Christian faith that maintained her hope during her confinement. The irony lies in the fact that despite her Christian faith that preaches kindness and goodness, Rowlandson portrays a predominately negative outlook towards the Native Americans. Although the Natives never harmed her during her captivity, Rowlandson calls them “black creatures”. The use of the color black alludes to demonic references, which is a recurring theme when referring to the Natives. When they dance and sing she not only chooses to see the evil in the Natives but also her surroundings as she said they “made the place a lively resemblance of hell”. This shows her condemnatory character and ideology as she judges those that are different from her. Her Puritan way of life enforces a strict belief system that has lead to her ignorance of the Natives. These sub-human descriptions continue when she describes the natives as “ravenous beasts” and “merciless enemies”. However, she contradicts herself in the following passage:
“I have been in the midst of those roaring lions, and savage bears, that feared neither God, nor the devil, by night and day, alone and in company, sleeping all sorts together, and yet not one of them ever...