Identity In A Son Of The Forest

1396 Words 6 Pages
Both Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn and William Apess’ A Son of the Forest have one large piece of the early republican identity depicted clearly within their texts. This piece of the early republican identity is the evil, almost unspeakable portion of the identity that I will refer to simply as the inhumanity. This portion of the early republican identity was produced through the evils of slavery. Now, this may not be obvious at first, since both novels do not deal directly African American with slavery, however, they both do deal indirectly with slavery or indentured servitude. In both novels the main villain is a mad man overcome with greed that seeped into his soul indirectly through the evils of slavery. In Arthur Mervyn this …show more content…
Particularly, Apess’ harassment that he received from his masters was, at points, worse than any physical beatings. These beatings were spiritual. They were more or less sanctions imposed on Apess’ spirituality and ability to attend church. This example which I’m referring to is the time when William Williams’ family, “decided I [Apess] was too young to be religiously inclined” (Apess 21). He goes on to say that, “Mr. Williams came to the conclusion that it was advisable for me to absent myself from the Methodist meetings”(Apess 21). Clearly, this oppression of Apess’ religious life was completely against his wishes. This oppression of Apess’ religiosity leads him to delve even further into his faith which, of course, he makes into his career as a minister. Now, even though Apess’ masters later gave him permission to attend church service once a week, I see a correlation between Apess’ oppressing servitude and his growing faith. This growth in spirituality is apparent when Apess discusses the abusive maid, by saying, “She had a great dislike for toward me and would not hesitate to tell a falsehood in order to have me whipped. But my mind was stayed upon god, and I had much comfort in reading the holy scripture” (Apess 22). This …show more content…
In Welbeck 's case, he let slave money rule his life and impair his judgment. In Apess’ master’s case, he let his love for power and control take his life over to a point where he wanted to inhibit Apess’ faith. Both of these men let slavery impair their ideas of right and wrong, and both of these men caused direct changes in the protagonist’s lives. For Arthur, his story revolves around returning the money to Lodi and through that he becomes the shining example of trust in the new republic. For Apess, his story revolves around finding his faith and through his faith he becomes a great example of the early republic’s faith and connectivity. Both of these villains in each story represent the early republic’s greed driven identity. In separate ways both of these villains take on the early republic’s greed driven identity, however, their greed driven identities would have never manifested in this way if if wasn’t for one of the early republic’s greatest atrocities -

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