Herman Melville 's ' Benito Cereno And Greg Grandin 's Historical Analysis Empire

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Do subjective ideas of liberty inevitably entail that liberators marginalize others? Herman Melville’s novella Benito Cereno and Greg Grandin’s historical analysis Empire of Necessity illustrate the cases of the Tryal, a Spanish slave ship which Melville fictitiously calls the San Dominick, and the Perseverance, fictively known as the Bachelor’s Delight in Benito Cereno to pose this question. At the turn of the 18th century, on tightly packed commercial ships, passengers experienced patriarchal control in different manners. Captain Benito Cereno relinquished his liberty to control his subordinates after realizing that Spanish colonial authority grew increasingly obsolete through military defeats and uprisings. As an authority figure unable to overcome the shifting balance of sociopolitical power that favored his American and African shipmates, Cereno resembled a fallen patriarch. Meanwhile, the American sealer Amasa Delano sought to liberate slaves for the reputation he would gain and recreate a new patriarchy. As Cereno’s European colonial authority deteriorated, Delano used this to legitimize American imperialism and reconfigure patriarchy in the age of American independence. In the name of liberty, Delano denounced the official practice of slavery, yet continued to denigrate slaves of African descent as inferior to his so-called civilized, modern character.
In Melville’s story, Cereno inherited the San Dominick, a ship whose enslaved human cargo murdered its masters, and…

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