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A different view - Slavery.

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Maurice van Mill 0247448 A different view Slavery is a topic much written about, especially in nineteenth century literature. Many books and poems have been written in favor or against it. Two stories written in the decade before the Civil War, when the discussion about slavery was at its height, still stand out today. Herman Melville's Benito Cereno (1855, 1856) and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) both criticize the institution of slavery, but in a different way. Where Melville is quite subtle, Beecher Stowe is much more obvious and sentimental. In Benito Cereno Melville uses irony and the naivety of Captain Delano as means to criticize slavery. He does this in a very subtle and tricky way. The reader is misled through the whole story, but that is only because of Captain Delano's description and misunderstanding of the situation on the San Dominick. Captain Delano is incapable of realizing what is really going on onboard. There are several passages in the story where this comes plainly clear. Melville more or less apologizes to the reader for this, by explaining the character of Captain Delano in the fourth paragraph of the story, "a person of a singularly undistrustful good nature, not liable, except on extraordinary ...read more.


When Eliza flies over the half thawed river, she gets pulled up the shore by Mr. Symmes who lives near the Shelby plantation. He is very friendly and promises not to tell Shelby. Beecher Stowe's intention with bringing up this man is to show that there are people who see slaves as regular people. He shows her a house where she can go to to get help. It turns out to be the house of an Ohio senator, Senator Bird. The first scene in chapter IX is typical in the way it shows the problem of slavery in the free states. The senator had to vote that day for a law concerning the right to help escaped slaves. He has a discussion with his wife who is very much in favor of helping slaves. The senator himself is also inclined to help them but he voted against on behalf of keeping the state of Kentucky satisfied. "There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems necessary, and no more than Christian and ...read more.


And that is why Uncle Tom's Cabin is more revolutionary than Benito Cereno. The great popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin then and now indicates that Beecher Stowe knew how to touch people. By making a sentimental and not too difficult story she was able to Van Mill 5 spread her criticism on slavery under a large audience. And though Melville's story may be literary as good or even better than Beecher Stowe's, history has proven the former more effective. P.S. I honestly apologize for handing in this assignment too late. My mental condition however, was not in a shape to finish this essay in time. I am fully aware of the consequences though, and I will not object if this will affect my grade. I hope to have informed you sufficiently. Yours sincerely, Maurice van Mill 1 Herman Melville, Benito Cereno. In: Nina Baym (ed.), The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Fifth edition (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), p. 1134, 1135. 2 Herman Melville, Benito Cereno. In: Nina Baym (ed.), The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Fifth edition (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), p.1166 3 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In: Nina Baym (ed.), The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Fifth edition (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999), p. 803 ...read more.

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