"Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs

An Essay

Essay, 2013

4 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Harriet Jacobs “Incidents in the life of a slave girl” was published in 1861. Harriet Jacobs tells us her story from her perspective as somebody born as a slave. “The pseudonymous narrator, Linda Brent, is caught between the brutal, exploitative bonds of slavery and the idealized, altruistic bonds of true womanhood.” (Sherman, 167). Harriet Jacobs was “the first American woman known to have authored a slave narrative in the United States […].” (Jacobs, 804). Through Harriet Jacob’s story one can gain a deep insight into the hard life and into the soul and feelings of Harriet Jacobs as Linda Brent. One can learn a lot about courage, bravery, willpower and determination – briefly speaking: about a strong girl/woman who never gave up.

She didn’t realize before the age of six that she was a slave. Her life was filled with love from those who surrounded her. There were her mother, her younger brother, who was “a bright, affectionate child” (Jacobs, 805) as well as her maternal grandmother who was like a treasure to her (Jacobs, 805). When Linda’s mother died she left her and her younger brother William to the care of her mistress, whom Linda loved like her own mother. At the age of twelve her mistress passed away and Linda became “property” of the mistress’s sister’s daughter. Mr. Flint became her new master as the mistress’s sister’s daughter was only 5 years old. At this point her so far more or less “happy days” ended. That will bring me to my thesis, because from this point on Linda had to be a powerful, strong girl as she had to go through the mistreating by Mr. Flint. When Linda for instance tells her master about her wish to get married to her black lover, he humiliates her by saying: “Well, I’ll soon convince you whether I am your master, or the nigger fellow you honor so highly. […] He sprang upon [her] like a tiger, and gave [her] a stunning blow.” (Jacobs, 809). He continued threatening her by pointing out: “Do you know that I have a right to do as I like with you, - that I can kill you, if I please?” (Jacobs, 810). But Linda nonetheless keeps her courage and remains faithful to herself - even if she might therefore put herself in grave danger: “You have struck me for answering you honestly. How I despise you!” (Jacobs, 809).


Excerpt out of 4 pages


"Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs
An Essay
Humboldt-University of Berlin  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
American Literary History
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
458 KB
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the life of a slave girl
Quote paper
Lea Lorena Jerns (Author), 2013, "Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl" by Harriet Jacobs, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/274165


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