STUDENT NUMBER: 57514534
NAME: ODESHNIE DHAVER
ASSIGNMENT 01: The Negro’s Complaint
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Negro’s Complaint
William Cowper’s poem The Negro’s Complaint is narrated by an African slave as depicted in lines 1-2 where the narrator informs the reader that he\she was forced from their home in Africa. The significance of using the voice of an African slave is to depict the inhumanity of slave trade and to give the reader a detailed image of their lives as slaves. Lines 5-6 implies that the slaves were seized from their homes and were sold to the British for insignificant sums of money, this metaphor depicts the dehumanisation of these people as they have now become similar to that of animals being sold in a market. The narrator describes the inhumane torture they must now endure after having been torn away from “home and all its pleasures”, this gives the audience an idea of how inherently evil slave trade is.
The personification in stanza 3 is depicted in lines 19-20 which describes how the narrator works in the plantation. The personification of their tears watering the crops denotes the pain and suffering the slave endures to nurture these crops. Line 20 creates an image of the slaves working hard to the point of exhaustion where their sweat covers the soil; this personification denotes inhumane working conditions and could imply that the slaves were forced to work for long hours at a time. The metaphor in stanza 3 is shown in lines 21 where the narrator is comparing the British masters’ hearts to that of an iron structure. The slave questions the masters to think about their actions against his people and implies that they have no human emotion whatsoever by comparing the masters hearts to that of a cold, inanimate object.
The speaker uses appeal to reason by questioning how one man can have the right to enslave and torture another in lines 10-13. In the first stanza, the speaker calls upon the conscience of the slave owner: "Minds are never to be sold." The speaker believes that he may be sold physically; however, his mind and freewill will not be tainted by the slavery.
The speaker uses appeal to logic in the last stanza, the speaker challenges the slave owner, he wants the slave owner to think about his actions and how he perceives the slaves as “brutes” without any human emotion, the slave owner should find some justification for slave trading other than the colour of a man’s skin as he says in lines 47-48
The speaker uses appeal to emotion in the first stanza, the narrator says that white and black men both feel emotion as "affection dwells" in both of them. Furthermore, in the third stanza, the speaker evokes the feeling of guilt that owners should feel as depicted in lines 21-24, showing how the masters may relax as the slaves toil and work hard for something they will never enjoy the rewards of.
The poem establishes a link between racism and slavery in stanza 1 where the speaker talks about being taken away from his home in Africa to become a black slave in England and as well in stanza 2 when the narrator states that even though he is a black slave, he is equal to the white man in mind and affection. The poem also establishes a link between slavery, racism and profit in stanza 1 where the slave says he has been sold for a “paltry sum” indicating that the master has made a profit of getting the slave for a small amount. In lines 23-24 the speaker questions the master asking him whether the profits are worth all the pain and suffering the slaves have to endure which shows a link between slavery and profit. In stanza 4 and 5 the slave challenges the master, he questions the master’s actions against them because of the...
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