The slave narrative The History of Mary Prince, harsh treatment and brutal

Essay by lilak0719College, Undergraduate December 2009

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In the slave narrative The History of Mary Prince, harsh treatment and brutal beatings from Prince's depraved slave mistresses occur almost regularly to Mary Prince and her slave companions. Prince narrates the whole story from her perspective and gives elaborate detail as to what a slave has to endure. Although all of Prince's owners are men, Prince focuses on the brutal beatings that the women pressed upon her. Mary Prince depicts the slave-master's wives as evil, twisted women who just beat Mary for no particular reason. Prince uses the advantage of showing these women as evil to gain the sympathy and compassion from her audience, an audience who would primarily be white, Christian women. Not only does the audience see the harsh reality of what slavery entails but they can side with a woman of color on morality issues and the wrongness of slavery. Prince is able to cast stones at her past slave mistresses and gain the empathy of a vast female audience, because she is able to depict the pain and suffering that her mistresses bestowed upon her, pain that hits close to a primarily female heart.

In the narrative "interpretation and appropriation are a part of the textual history of Mary Prince. Prince dictated her narrative to a white woman, and her life story is edited by a white (abolitionist) man Thomas Pringle" (Baumgartner 254). The narrative begins with a preface written by Pringle who explains right away that "The idea of writing Mary Prince's history was first suggested by herself" (i). Mary Prince obviously wanted her story heard, but for what reasons? Apparently Prince "wished it to be done, she said, that good people in England might hear from a slave what a slave had felt and suffered" (i). Indeed, Prince has every right...