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Use the Account of Olaudah Equiano, to Analyze the Situation of the African Slaves in the Americas. How ‘Typical’ Was Equiano’s Experience?

  • Date Submitted: 10/21/2012 04:13 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.3 
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Largely, the experiences recorded in Olaudah Equiano’s autobiographical account, ‘The Interesting Narrative Gustavas Vassa, or Olaudah Equiano’, provides a typical depiction of the situation, which other African slaves sold and traded in the Americas had experienced. Equiano, born in 1745 in Nigeria, was kidnapped as a child and sold to slave traders and taken to Virginia where he worked on the plantations. The majority of Equiano’s time however was spent on the sea, under captains of slave ships and British navy vessels. In 1763 he was purchased by a Robert King, a Quaker merchant, who allowed him to participate in his own minor trading ventures that later gave him the means to purchase his own freedom. His freedom opened up the possibility of an informal western education, and the opportunity of extensive traveling in Europe and the Caribbean. It was not until 1789 that Equiano recorded his experiences in a two-volume autobiographical account, which was used in aid to the abolition of slavery. Equiano’s published biographical account can be seen to be largely representative of the experiences of the slaves in the Americas; particularly in his depiction of the trauma of the middle passage, and the situation of slaves on the plantations, and the treatment from their masters. However as Equiano was particularly fortunate to have humane and decent masters, many experiences and opportunities given to Equiano were far from typical to the situation of those the African slaves in the Americas.

When considering Olaudah Equiano’s account of his journey through the middle passage, his experience can largely be seen as typical to those of other African slaves in this situation, especially in terms of the emotional and physical sufferings that they endured. Equiano’s experience through the middle passage can be seen as a typical in his depiction of their emotional distress, and intense fear of their enslavers. This fear was one stemmed from...


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