Posts Tagged ‘harriet ann jacobs’

So I finished reading Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I liked it very much but I like Sense and Sensibility better. I was happy that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy got together in the end, and very happy that Jane and Mr. Bingley got together. I loved Jane – she was my favorite character. I admired her sweet nature and her refusal to think ill of anyone and to always give people the benefit of the doubt.

I think one of the reasons I liked this book less than Sense and Sensibility is that there are so many unlikable characters. Mrs. Bennet immediately comes to mind in that regard, and then there are Miss Bingley, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Mr. Collins. And probably some others I’m forgetting.

Mrs. Bennet’s all-consuming concern in marrying her daughters, and her resulting inappropriate and ill-mannered behavior were the reasons she was unlikable to me. I did eventually have a revelation that, while not making Mrs. Bennett more likable, made her actions more understandable. Hers was a family composed of five daughters. In those old-fashioned days, women truly needed to be married. They generally couldn’t work, and so needed a husband to support them. Naturally she wouldn’t want them to marry just anyone, hence her concern to have them marry well. Plus it was a feather in her own cap.

I started reading another book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Ann Jacobs. It is the true life story of a woman who was born a slave in the South. I hesitated to read it, because I knew it would be very sad and depressing. And it is. But it is also profound, beautifully written, compelling, and full of insight into slavery and human nature. Miss Jacobs is very intelligent, and an excellent writer.

It is difficult to believe, in this day and age, that there was a time when people thought that it was not only ok, but the natural order of things and G-d’s will that other human beings could be one’s property, to do with as one pleased. It’s inconceivable to me, and is a reminder that horrible things still go on in this world, even though we ought to know better.

The torturous things that were done to the slaves – to those poor human beings – is unimaginable. The utter hypocrisy of the white people who supported this “institution” is amazing; they called themselves Christians and yet had no love in them. And all the laws they had to create to protect themselves from recognizing the evil they were perpetrating should have been a clear sign that something was terribly wrong.

Thankfully Miss Jacobs eventually gained her freedom.

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