life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

 life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Incident in the life of slave girl by Harriet Jacobs Chapter 5 and 6 OF incidents in the life of a slave girl talks about Linda, and describes the daily torture she has to endure in the house of Dr. Flint. Dr. Flint, aged fifty-five pursues the fifteen year old girl with the intention of having sexual relations with her. Thus, this invokes the jealous rage of Mrs. Flint, who instead of protecting Linda sees her as a potential threat to her marriage (Jacobs, 2004).

Linda tells the story of two sisters raised together, but one is the other ones slave. She does this to show that her plight is no different from the other black women in the society. This paper aims at looking at why and how slavery was terrible for women while also discussing the sentimentality of the book written by Harriet Jacobs.

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 life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Harriet Jacobs and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The plight of black women is quite evident in the book as they have no freedom neither can they express themselves in any manner (Jacobs, 2004). Just as men slaves experience beating and acts of violence against them, women slaves too were subject to physical abuse. Masters used such punishments to dehumanize the slaves. In essence, these slaves got reduced to the level of animals. Jacob Harriet demonstrates how slave women were subject of cruel treatment and the effect it had on them. “Mrs. Wade was the other neighbour. At the hour of the day there was a cessation of lash on her premises. The barn was her place of torture.”

 life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Harriet Jacobs

Along with the severe beatings, slave women suffered abuses that only apply to their gender. Men got punished mostly by torture and death, but in addition to that, women got emotionally and verbally abused and wronged. “When Dr. Flint learned I was about to be a mother he got exasperated beyond measure. He returned to his house and came with a pair of shears and used them to cut my hair, which he always railed about.” Jacob demonstrates the torture Linda went through in the Flint’s household.

Women slaves endure sexual exploitation, something the men slaves never have to undergo. The woman slave has no say in this society (Jacobs, 2004). “I still long for someone to confide in, I would give the world to get a chance to lay my head on my grandmothers blossom, but Dr. Flint said he would kill me.” Women undergo harsh treatment, numerous threats and sexual abuse and have nowhere to complain.

 life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
 life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

Being a woman slave was much more terrible than being a man slave. The reason is that women, especially the beautiful ones, were vulnerable to becoming objects of desire for their masters. Consequently, the masters would pursue them for their own sexual needs. The result of this would be harboured hate between the master’s spouse and the slave as seen in the context of Mrs. Flint and Linda. “The young wife learns that her husband pays no attention to his marriage vows.” Jacob demonstrates how the woman slave was taken as an object of sexual gratification (Jacobs, 2004).

The author tries to have the reader’s sympathy by outlining the terrible experiences and plight of women. The author points out those white women are victims and also accomplices of their husbands’ sexual harassment and exploitation of black enslaved women. “I earnestly desire to notify the women of the North of the condition of two million southerners suffering in bondage like I did.” (Jacobs, 2004). The white women, whether they are southerners who are deeply rooted to the plantation traditions, or northerners blinded by the prospect of getting married to a wealthy land owner, all contribute to the white man perpetuation of slavery.


Jacobs, H. A. (2004).&nbsp.Incidents in the life of a slave.

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