Response to Oppression in 19th Century American Literature

Topics: Oppression, Civil disobedience, Slavery Pages: 4 (1034 words) Published: January 15, 2015
Amina Mesic
Dr. Tuthill, Maureen
ENG 238
Final Exam, Part 2
12th December 2014
Response to Oppression in 19th Century American Literature
Every single day some people face discrimination, cruelty and unfairness. The oppressive systems and even more oppressive social norms constantly put burden on so many groups who sometimes do not have a choice or are not strong enough to fight against the grievance of the time and environment they live in. Throughout history, these groups needed strong, inspired, influential individuals to set an example, to encourage and motivate the resistance. These individuals left a mark through their works awakening the rebellious spirit in those who suffered the cruelty of the oppressive systems. The writers who marked the early American Literature period revealed their thoughts about the oppression and how individuals should respond to it. This way, Jacobs and Douglas, Thoreau and Whitman, each one in a specific and unique approach, influenced the course of action by showing the world the alternative ways of thinking and dealing with the oppression. Jacobs wrote about slavery when this topic was a big issue in the United States. A slave herself, Jacobs understood the cruelty of the system present in the country at that time and she wrote about it with compassion and strong beliefs about the importance of resistance. In her stories she writes about the harshness of being inferior and forced to obey and she also puts an emphasis on how hard it is to be a woman in such a system. Reading the passages from the “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” one can feel Jacob’s intent to show that however hard it is, it is so crucial to find the way to oppose the rule and to disobey in order to follow the right values and principles. Through the character of Linda Brent we see the suffering, but also the resistant spirit of a slave who symbolically escapes the oppressive system capturing herself in the attic. Even though again restraining,...


Cited: Dickinson, Emily. 320 [258] There’s a certain Slant of light. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Gen. ed. Mina Baym. 7th ed. Vol. B. New York: Norton, 2012. 1857-1872. Print.
Thoreau, D. Henry. “Resistance to Civil Government” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Gen. ed. Mina Baym. 7th ed. Vol. B. New York: Norton, 2012. 1857-1872. Print.
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