Harriet Jacobs Essay Questions

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Gwin goes on to state that whereas sentimental literature advanced ideals such as virtue and sensibility, Jacobs shows that such ideals were incompatible with the slave woman's experience.

While Thomas Doherty identifies the shortcomings of Incidents as a work of sentimental literature, he argues that the book moves "women's literature" into the realm of politics.

Throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jacobs and her daughter continued to fight for the rights of African Americans. Major Works Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl details the horrific experiences endured by Jacobs.

In the preface to the book, Jacobs, as Linda Brent, states that her "adventures may seem incredible," but assures readers that her "descriptions fall short of the facts." Brent describes her life as a slave from her early years, when she did not even know she was a slave, to the violence and exploitation she endured as a teenager at the hands of her master, and finally to her repugnance at the thought of her well-meaning employer purchasing her in order to free her.

Rather than submit to the doctor, Jacobs became the mistress of a white slave-holding neighbor of the Norcoms and soon announced that she was pregnant.

She bore two children, both fathered by this white neighbor. 1813-1897 (Also wrote under the pseudonym of Linda Brent) American autobiographer.Harriet Jacobs's slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (1861), stands out from the male-dominated slave narrative genre in its unique point of view and especially in its focus on the sexual exploitation of the female slave.At the age of twenty-one, Jacobs ran away, believing that Norcom would sell the children in her absence.In her narrative, Jacobs, as Linda Brent, wrote that at this time she hid for seven years in an attic crawlspace in her grandmother's home, where her children lived unaware of their mother's presence.Yet a common factor among male slave narratives and Jacobs's Incidents is the sense of triumph the writer describes as he or she reclaims a sense of self.Critical Reception Incidents received little critical attention until Yellin's research revealed the authenticity of the narrative.There she reunited with her children and tried to establish a home for her family.In 1850, the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law (which stated that anyone caught aiding a fugitive slave was subject to punishment) threatened her safety and Jacobs once again went into hiding. Nathaniel Parker Willis, purchased Jacobs for three hundred dollars in order to free her.Similarly, Jean Fagan Yellin suggests that Incidents is designed to prompt women to political action.Elizabeth Fox-Genovese contends that in writing to an audience of free, Northern women, Jacobs uses the style of sentimental domestic fiction, but the tone and content of the book differ considerably from other works of domestic fiction.


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