Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl



, Harriet Jacobs’ appalling autobiographical narrative of her experience of slavery, is a story very much interwoven with the “cult of true womanhood.” Jacobs hardly embodied the ideal picture of true womanhood painted by white, middle-class Northeastern Americans: delicate, white, submissive, pious and pure. However, she was – in a sense – a darker-skinned, trial-tried reflection of that True Woman. In her account, an understanding seeps through the pages that true womanhood was a concept in need of expansion, or perhaps negation. The Northern view of true womanhood required resources that Northern, white women’s trampled counterparts did not have. Jacobs’ book acts as a desperate ...

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Experience “middle class Americans had rising incomes, expectations, and living standards” (p.67). The atmosphere was charged with growth and transformation.
It was out of this shift in society that the “cult of true womanhood” was born. This idyllic view of women’s appropriate sphere “celebrated the new status of the middle class woman, along with her distinctive vocation, values, and character” (Woloch, p.68). True Women reigned in the domestic realm, whereas men controlled the outside world of politics, business, individuality, intellect, etc. True Women were submissive to men. Their purpose was simply to provide a warm, happy, comfortable home for their husbands and children. According to these ideals, a True Woman was “dependent and affectionate..., pious, pure, gentle, nurturant, benevolent, and sacrificing” (Woloch, p. 73). Women were being sent to academies, not to further their own advancement, but to promote their learning of the skills necessary to be a good wife ...

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In her story, she recounts a myriad of examples of the excruciating inhumanity with which slaves were treated. Numerous methods of torture were employed for slaveholders to exercise their power over their human property. Masters stripped slaves and exposed them to hundreds of lashes of the whip, not stopping until they were reduced to broken spirits and raw human flesh surrounded by puddles of blood. They suspended slaves above the ground and dripped scalding drops of fat on their bodies. They screwed slaves’ bodies to cotton gins and left them for days. The horror stories go on and on (Jacobs, pp. 46-49). Besides all this physical torture, in addition to the ongoing forced and ...

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Added: 9/11/2008 01:38:54 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1793
Pages: 7

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