Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Feminism Essay

Words: 1369
Pages: 6

The feminist movement sought to gain rights for women. Many feminist during the early nineteenth century fought for the abolition of slavery around the world. The slave narrative became a powerful feminist tool in the nineteenth century. Black and white women are fictionalized and objectified in the slave narrative. White women are idealized as pure, angelic, and chaste while black woman are idealized as exotic and contained an uncontrollable, savage sexuality. Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl, brought the sexual oppression of captive black women into the public and political arena.

Harriet Jacobs takes a great risk writing her trials as a house servant in the south and a fugitive in the north. Incidents in
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Jacobs uses a pseudonym in the novel. She portrays herself as Linda Brent. Of all the women that Linda Brent meets, not one fits the mole of a true woman in slave times. Aunt Martha, Linda's Grandmother, is a free woman who owns her own home and supports herself by selling baked goods. These characteristics she displays are coherent with the domesticity that women are accustomed to but she does not show submissiveness. Aunt Martha counsels Linda to be submissive to her master and accept her fate as a slave but her words can not be effective because she is now on the outside. She can have the traditional family unlike Linda.

After her escape, Linda is assisted by a slave holding white woman. The white woman is by all aspects a true woman, but due to her actions she lacks the submissiveness of women. She defies Linda's hunters by maintaining her silence as to Linda's location. Even though Linda is nearly found, the woman never turns her over to her master like a true woman should. A true woman would never get involved in a dispute because it is not her place, but the white woman does. Not only does she involve herself in the manner but she takes the side of a slave over a man of her own kind. The woman's domain was her home and her duty was to maintain and manage the household to the best of her ability. She was to provide comfort for her husband and her family, not aid in the dispensing of impartiality.

Even Mrs. Flint lacked an