Essay On Captivity In Captivity

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Captivity in Different Eras

At first glance, one might assume that an author publishing her works in 1682 would have no realistic chance of sharing a common message as a man publishing his story one hundred and seventy-three years later in 1855. However, captivity narratives have been popular topics throughout history which enjoyed a wide readership. Despite their separation in in the gulf of time, Mary Rowlandson and Herman Melville shared similar experiences in witnessing captivity at the hands of two cultures and the violence that came with these experiences. While the New World offered an abundance of social and financial potential, it simultaneously fostered the negative aspects of human nature. Giving an account of the horrendous acts
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The slave trade from Africa is a booming business transplanting strong men and women from one part of the world to another. Adjectives conveying animalistic qualities such as savage, beast, creature, and dog are used by both authors showing the negative attitudes Americans held towards these cultures. Mary Rowlandson uses this classist thinking of the Indians as animals as a license to sidestep personal moral convictions about capture and death in “A Narrative of the Capture and Restoration of Mrs Mary Rowlandson”: “I had often before this said, that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to the trial my mind changed; their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts” (Rowlandson 237). Facing similar situations, other authors of the same time-period as Rowlandson use the same adjectives as a method to dehumanizing this culture by assigning feral traits. In the story of “Father Bressani 's Captivity Among the Iroquois”, Giuseppe Bressani, uses the familiar descriptive method in his second letter of his personal narrative: “I was unable, during my captivity, to render to any of those wretched beings, in return for the evil they did me, the good which was the object of …show more content…
Like most of the settlers of her time, Rowlandson is a devout Christian. Life, for her, consisted of seeking a spiritual path toward God. Consequently, it was only natural for her to allude to the Bible and the lessons it teaches: “I went along that day mourning and lamenting, leaving farther my own country, and travelling farther into the vast and howling wilderness, and I understood something of Lot 's wife 's temptation when she looked back.” (Rowlandson 242). While the intent behind Melville’s writing has been the subject of debate, there are many who agree that he pulls no punches and purposely overemphasize the stereotypical attitudes toward African slaves. Perhaps by showing the depraved behavior Americans use, readers might protest after recoiling in disgust. Racist canine comparisons continue to highlight the absurd levels of disdain: “In fact, like most men of a good, blithe heart, Captain Delano took to Negroes, not philanthropically, but genially, just as other men to Newfoundland dogs” (Melville 1386). At the time of writing “Benito Cereno”, slavery had already run rampant across the nation and become a topic of great debate, and this was Melville’s attempt to influence change in the practice. Despite using their medium to push an agenda, they likewise did this from an altruistic frame of mind with noble

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