Essay on Herman Melville 's Benito Cereno

1557 Words Jun 22nd, 2015 null Page
Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” unravels as a tale about a slave revolt, wherein the slaves take control of the San Dominick. Before this occurrence and even after, Captain Delano believes that Benito Cereno is in control of the ship, and is transporting human cargo to be sold and delivered. Melville’s use of irony and metaphors highlight the dichotomy of slavery and freedom. He reverses the patronage from Anglo Saxon control to the enslaved as a pun against the institution of slavery, claiming that slavery is wrong and a faulty institution, and white Europeans are constantly in danger of a slave revolt. Captain Delano is characterized as the overly trusting white man who deems a slave mutiny to be impossible because of his influence from the religion of slavery, therefore, it takes time for him to realize the reality of the situation. Melville uses the metaphor of a knot to represent the complexities of slavery, demonstrating how slavery is hard to undo and disengage from. “Benito Cereno” is an argument against slavery and an advertisement for freedom because it criticizes and challenges the foundation of slavery by establishing the reversal of power among races to demonstrate how brutality, which is normally shed on slaves, is counteracted. He does this by using characterization and imagery to demonstrate the larger impact and moral disgrace that slavery places on society.
The role of power is reversed from white Europeans to enslaved African Americans. Melville’s…

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