Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, course: American Literature, language: English, abstract: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs is a narrative which is much more than a typical antebellum slave narrative since it can be characterized as a public document which provides an insight into the spirit, psyche and history of an African American slave woman who fights for an antislavery reform (Sánchez-Eppler 83). Incidents covers many topics such as the brutal and ruthless behavior of the white middle-class towards African American slaves, the peculiar institution and the strong familiar coherence based on female slaves. Another very significant topic, which is covered with high importance throughout the autobiography, is the image of the woman during the nineteenth century in the United States. The ideal of an American true woman during the antebellum period was coined by four cardinal virtues of the Victorian Age: piety, purity, domesticity and submissiveness. Further research of Jacobs' autobiography proves that neither white female middle and upper class women nor African American female slaves are able to meet all the standards of a true woman due to the institution of slavery. To prove the statement above, I will initially explain what was meant by the ideology of true womanhood during the mid-nineteenth century in America. Then the paper will transfer the principles of true womanhood to the protagonist's living conditions and to other important female characters such as Mrs. Flint, Aunt Marthy and Mrs. Bruce. Concerning this matter, it is important to mention that the narrator Linda Brent and the author Harriet Jacobs are the same in the autobiography because Jacobs has given persons fictitious names in order to protect their identities. Harriet Jacobs' name will be used when talking about the author, but her pseudonym Linda Brent will be used with regard to the protagonist.
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