The Interesting Narrative Of Olaudah Equiano

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Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano sheds an extraordinary amount of light and transparency on the institution of slavery during the 1700s, as well as, to an extent, the systems of enslavement that existed previously, both within America and in Africa. Equiano detailed his life before he was sold into slavery via the Atlantic slave trade, describing how slavery, a milder, drastically different version than what occurred in America, did exist in the region he was born, in what was called the Kingdom of Benin. Prisoners of war and adulterers, for example, were typically the ones taken into bondage, already depicting a clear distinction between Europe and Africa. To Europeans, slavery was “a purely economic …show more content…
As a child, he was born and raised into a society which valued and cherished spirituality, which believed in a single Creator who “lived in the sun,” and who “governed events, especially [the people’s] deaths or captivity” (51). The customs of this society survived within Equiano since birth, and he explained throughout his Narrative that he continued to look for a religion, both before and after his freedom, believing that something was missing from his life that only a religious institution or sentiment could fill. At first, the notion of God filled him with nothing but more curiosity and inquiries, which he described in his story of his first time seeing snow. Later, however, when he was older and had learned more about God, he came to see the Lord as merciful, powerful, and capable of “hurl[ing] his direful vengeance on [his] guilty head for cursing the vessel on which [his] life depended” (143). Equiano sought out God’s mercy, His forgiving nature, and prayed that God “might still help [him]” escape death (143). From this moment onward, it seemed, Equiano’s relationship with God changed, becoming in some ways stronger and more solidified within Equiano’s consciousness. To him, religion brought both fear and contentment, brought a sense of clarity, peace, and understanding to the world that allowed him to comprehend and clearly detail the accounts of his life. Religion, he believed, or God, gave …show more content…
When Equiano discussed the issues and inhumaneness that revolved around slavery, he attacked them from all sides, including the legal side from a political, reasonable, and judicious standpoint. During the American Revolution, the antislavery movement gained speed, and many in America called for an end to the hypocrisy and irony that arose due to the famous line: “All men are created equal.” While he himself was not in America at the time to comment on the falseness of this line, those who supported the antislavery movement in America did. Men like Samuel Johnson asked how it could be possible for a country to support, profit off of, and benefit from slavery while demanding equality, liberty, and freedom from oppression in Britain. Quok Walker, a slave in America during the mid-1700s and another example of someone who refused to sit idly by, “asked the state’s highest court how he could be someone else’s property if, in fact, he was born “free and equal”” (13). The abolitionist movement in America was becoming more well known, more supported, and, even though Equiano was not able to participate in the American movement first-hand, he was able to make his appeal in 1788 to the Queen of England directly. His letter to the Queen on behalf of his “African brethren” was a direct plea to help the slaves in the West Indies, who “groan under the lash of

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