Slavery In Melville's Benito Cereno

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One of the most resonating quotes from Benito Cereno is made through Delano who says, “This slavery breeds ugly passions in man” (Melville 1160). This is largely one of the most important messages Melville is trying to convey. Melville shows how the feelings that the Americans were having concerning racial superiority bring forth these “ugly passions” (Melville 1160). Delano believed the ugly passions came from slavery. In reality, the ugly passion came from the perpetrators of slavery, such as Delano himself. Delano seems unable to recognize his own attitudes toward blacks as ugly passions. Melville is making a highly controversial point that is it not the act of slavery itself that causes ugly passions, but the people behind the whip who …show more content…
As De Santis has mentioned, in Melville’s work, one can discover an, “outrage towards white hierarchical power” (De Santis, 18). He conveys his distaste for slavery in a number of ways. Firstly, by making a connection between Delano and a white American New World male of the nineteenth century. Next, he points out that the Negroes are as capable as the Americans, as far as intelligence is concerned. In addition, he makes Delano briefly sympathetic towards Atufal to bring attention to the fact that Americans are capable of sympathy, but choose to ignore this emotion. Moreover, he reverses the traditional idea of master and slave, which naturally shows a reverse of power. Additionally, he brings forth the idea of man as the original curator of evil passions. It is not merely slavery that brings forth these passions, but the Americans behind slavery who do so. Lastly, he aims to show his reader how slavery could (and eventually would) impact America (in the later Civil War). All in all Melville wanted to show how capable the slaves were. They were intelligent enough, and they had the capability of being leaders, but at that time, it was not something the Americans were going to consider. Melville wrote Benito Cereno as a sort of message to his readers. De Santis makes a significant observation that Melville was not blind to “America's original sin” (De Santis, 1). To bring awareness

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