Last Updated 20 Aug 2020

Harriet Jacobs and Female Suffering

Words 729 (2 pages)

To an extent I believe that as a runaway slave, Harriet Jacobs suffered more from psychological abuse than physical abuse. Slavery was a horrible practice that took the human out from race of a person especially seen on women. Female slave experiences were different from that of men. It wasn't less severe, but it was different on the way they were treated because of their gender.

Experiences like sexual abuse, giving birth to children, and childcare were some main responsibilities that affected the female’s pattern of resistance and how they conducted their lives. We see these experiences with Harriet Jacobs on “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” which demonstrates the different role that female slaves had and the struggles that were caused from having to cope with sexual abuse which led to psychological abuse

One of the main psychological experiences she had was when she wanted to escape into freedom and she had to leave her children behind. It was a huge impact because her connection to her children were so great that it was hard for her to leave them especially at that period of time. Her grandmother had a huge impact on the ethical value of her not leaving her children behind.Her grandmother told her, "Stand by your children, and suffer with them till death.

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Nobody respects a mother who forsakes her children: and if you leave them, you will never have a happy moment."(Jacobs, 417).This was a huge impact because the slave women's choices in life were not limited to her happiness, but she had to think about her children. A mother had different responsibilities that she had to deal with. By having to deal with sexual abuse and thinking about children women were less able to leave their chains and people behind. For those fugitive women who left children in slavery, the physical relief which freedom brought was limited compensation for the anguish they suffered but her psychological affect was even worth because of her pride towards her children.

Another psychological affect was how her childhood years affected her future.Born into slavery, Jacobs still was taught to read at an early age. She was orphaned as a child and formed a bond with her maternal grandmother, Molly Horniblow, who had been freed from slavery. While still in her teens Jacobs became involved with a neighbor, Samuel Tredwell Sawyer, a young white lawyer by whom she had two children. When she refused to become her owner’s mistress(the husband) , she was sent to work in a nearby plantation which made her escape in nearby years.In her young years she was used to live an almost normal age but in the nearby future she had to live through a different standard of living .

Last another psychological affect will be on the physical abuse which turned into a psychological affect.She couldn’t stand the abuse of her master. One of the interesting things about Harriet\'s early life is that she did not know she was a slave; she lived in relative comfort and security with her mother and father - who were married - as well as her extended family. This was rather uncommon for several reasons, the first being that Harriet came from a nuclear family and that she was not treated poorly as a child. In her childhood, as well as in her adulthood, she benefited from the stability provided to her by her family.

Although her parents died when she was young, her grandmother remained the central figure in her life, providing her with comfort, security, moral guidance, and unrelenting love. Harriet's realization that she was a slave was a startling one; once she learned that she was a slave she could never reverse this knowledge and was thus stuck with the psychological trauma of knowing that she was a piece of property. Interestingly enough, when she is finally freed by the second Mrs. Bruce, she reiterates her astonishment that a human being could ever be seen as merely an object to be bought and sold.

This is the reason why Harriet Jacobs suffered more from a psychological affect than a physical effect. She has to leave her children behind to runaway which her moral values were different from what she divided on. Her family was a huge impact on her future which was different from what she was used to and her physical abused turned more into a psychological abuse.

Harriet Jacobs and Female Suffering essay

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