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Mary Prince

The narrative by Mary Prince differed largely from that of Equiano’s. In Equiano’s narrative, Equiano speaks very deliberately, intelligently, and impassively. Mary Prince’s narrative is not only published with a preface and a closing “supplement” equivalent in length to the narrative itself by the editor, but her story can be heard through the faltering, struggling, emotional perspective of a slave unable to obtain education and privilege. Although the author of the preface has no ill-intentions, the fact that the editor needed to “exclude redundancies and gross grammatical errors” “so as to render it clearly intelligible” (14/1090) speaks to the larger sense of dependency for Mary Prince than Equiano. In Equiano’s narrative, he repeats “written by himself” a few times before the novel even begins. For Mary Prince, we immediately understand her limited education, and thus, capability. I found the irony throughout Mary Prince’s narrative to be troublesome. Mary Prince is initially a pet for her owner—she “lead[s] [Prince] about by the hand, and call[s] [her] little nigger” (37/1090) like a pet. I found it ironic that this girl wants to keep Prince safe (“you are my slaves, and he has no right to sell you” (79/1090)) while holding her as an incapable, controlled slave. I thought it was odd she was even concerned with Prince’s welfare at all considering the whole inhumaneness of the situation to begin with. This irony appears again when Mr. D— instructs the future owner of Prince to not “treat [Prince] ill” (311) considering he’d been abusing her the whole time. Prince is constantly being described as an animal—a “frightened hound” (140) and forced to crawl on her knees and do work even when she is ill. Even the cow, an animal, is “frightened at [the] violence [toward Prince]” (195), suggesting that Prince is being treated even worse than an animal.

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One thought on “Mary Prince

  1. I found that first quote to be a little disturbing too. It sounded like Mary Prince liked it when she was called the little girl’s “little nigger”. This is the same girl that she described as like her sister. It reminded me of Equiano’s passiveness in accepting his name change without much resistance. These slave narratives all seem to show the slaves as passive and seems like they know their place in society.

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