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Published: 11-09-2019

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A Literary Analysis of Twelve Years a Slave

Solomon Northup’s book Twelve Year’s a Slave covered the story of Northup himself as he was kidnapped and forced into slavery. He worked as a slave for 12 years before the government was able to find and cost-free him. Solomon Northup’s story was relevant when it was written and is nevertheless relevant these days. At the time it was written, it exposed the hardships and cruelty of slavery to the basic public, and right now Twelve Year’s a Slave serves as an essential historical document–a major supply for info on the conditions slaves lived in in the course of the 1840’s.

Solomon Northup was a cost-free man living in New York State. He was well identified locally for his expertise as a violinist. In 1841, he was approached by two men claiming to belong to a traveling circus. They wanted him to accompany them on their way to Washington D.C. and supplied to pay him for each evening he played his violin. They drugged him once they got to D.C. and he woke up in a slave pen beneath the city streets. It’s right here the dirty truth of slavery begins to show itself to the reader. Solomon Northup refused to comply with the slaver, insisting rather that he was a free man with rights. The slaver beat Solomon Northup with a wooden paddle until he stopped speaking of getting born totally free. Solomon was then moved to New Orleans with a couple of other slaves where they were auctioned off. Solomon Northup was sold to Mr. Ford who he worked under for two years before moving to Epp’s plantation. Solomon Northup worked at Epps’ plantation for ten years ahead of he was at some point situated and freed.

This book was written at a time when slavery was a really controversial situation. Northup’s story was very beneficial to the abolitionist movement as it showed America slavery from a slave’s perspective. “Still he plied the lash without stint upon my poor body, till it seemed that the lacerated flesh was stripped from my bones at each stroke. a man with a particle of mercy in his soul would not have beaten even a dog so cruelly” (Northup 17). Typically occasions pro-slavery advocates would use the defense that slaves were treated well Solomon Northup supplied strong proof against that argument in his novel. Northup made a point of displaying that even though some slave owners might have been great to their slaves, like William Ford, numerous had been not as the practice of slavery is inherently evil.

Solomon Northup described the brutal process he went through when he was kidnapped and forced into slavery in a way that garnered empathy from several of his readers. He also described the hardships he witnessed other slaves go by way of, at 1 point focusing on the agony of a lady named Eliza “‘I will not go without her. They shall not take her from me,’ she relatively shrieked, her shrieks comingling with the loud and angry voice of Freeman commanding her to be silent” (Northup 39). Northup also depicted the a variety of physical exams slaves went by means of to assess their value ahead of becoming sold, and how they had been organized when shown to consumers: “The men had been arranged on one side of the space, the females on the other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their respective heights” (Northup 35). At the time 12 Years a Slave was written, the main focus of this scene would’ve been on Northup’s thoughts as he was put on sale. To modern readers, there is added depth as there is interest not only in the thoughts of Solomon Northup, but also in the issues folks may possibly have regarded as mundane when the book was initially published, such as the each day lives of people in the 1840’s. Northup’s description of the everyday lives of folks, plantations, and the conditions slaves lived below can all be referenced for historical documents as his firsthand account is 1 of the most reliable.

An aspect of Twelve Years a Slave relevant each today and when it was initial published is how it covers the relationship among a slave and his master. This is the story of slavery told not from the point of view of a scholar but from the perspective of a slave. Solomon Northup produced a point of stating:

I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came below my own observation—only so far as I have recognized and skilled it in my own particular person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of information: to repeat the story of my life, without having exaggeration, leaving it for others to establish, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage. (Northup 3)

Such an account of slavery told from the slave’s perspective is extremely uncommon, as handful of slaves have been literate and even fewer shared their stories with the globe. 12 Years a Slave fueled the fires of abolitionism in 1853 and nowadays offers beneficial insight into the harrowing lives that slaves lived.
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