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Mary Prince

I obviously expected Mary Prince’s narrative to be a little more graphic than Equiano’s, especially after early in the narrative she refers to her future as “toils and sorrow”(3), but I was extremely shocked at some of her descriptions. Even when Equiano received a whipping, which he rarely did in his narrative, he did not say anything about being beaten until a pool of blood collects under the slave. I cringed while reading about Prince being whipped to the point that she couldn’t stand to walk, and all this while she was still a little girl. It seemed like every time she added a new slave character to her narrative, that shortly after they would receive some sort of punishment to the point of death. It astounds me that more people didn’t die from treatment like this. It was sickening to say the least.

One of the things that resonated with me was toward the end of the book when Prince was trying to get her freedom. It is hardly a surprise that most slaveowners were horrible heartless people, but I was shocked that Mr. Wood refused to allow Prince to be freed when they were in London. First of all, it is established that slavery is not allowed in London, plus the Wood’s kicked Prince out of their house. To add to all of this, Mary Prince explains that “they offered him, as I have heard, a large sum for my freedom, he was sulky and obstinate, and would not consent to let me go free.”(31). What does Mr. Wood have to gain from not accepting this money for Prince? I think that pride has a lot to do with this. It seemed like Mr. Wood preferred to keep they symbolic ownership of Prince rather than collect a large amount of money for her because it allowed him to keep his feeling of power.

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2 thoughts on “Mary Prince

  1. I like what you said about owning slaves for the feeling of power rather than the tangible benefits of owning and then selling slaves. An instance that I noticed this same theme is when one of Prince’s owners sold her to someone else and strictly instructed that she be treated well. This was ironic because this particular owner beat her and treated her horribly! It showed to me that he just wanted the control over her well-being, whether it was to beat her or to make sure someone else didn’t beat her, it is still trying to have control over her in some way. Great post!

  2. I too really like your point about the feeling of power associated with owning slaves. I was also pretty confused as to what the driving force behind Mr. Wood blatantly refusing payment in exchange for Mary’s freedom. I think you and Lauren are on to something with the idea that slavery has much to do with the power aspect of actually owning a human rather than the tangible benefits. The parallel that comes to mind is the motives behind rape; its not about the sex so much as the power trip behind it.

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