Re-presentation. You become what I want.  I have the power to transform you into my illusion. This ideology is interwoven throughout the play “The Escape or Leap of Freedom by William Wells Brown. For instance, the power of the enslaved was taken away from them, and solely administered by the master. This ultimately transforms the enslaved into replicas of the master’s perception of reality, through the process of punishment and religion.

Punishment is eminent in maintaining an ideal perception of reality. During, the time of slavery it usually meant that the whites had dominant control. Therefore, the blacks became the inferior; consequently living under the oppression of the whites. In which they had to be content, graceful, and obedient. For if they step outside of these perimeters a control mechanism was employed to retain this supreme power. Hence, the introduction of punishment came into existence. Slaves would be punished usually by flogging to bring them under submission. Browns capture this occurrence within his play. For instance, when Hannah refused to marry Cato, Mrs. Gaines took her to the cellar to whip and when she returned she jump the broom as commanded.

Moreover, religion also played a vital role in keeping with the superior’s reality. As mentioned earlier the whites had dominant control, which mean they where the most powerful, ultimately the superior. Consequently, religion is also used as a mechanism to inflict control. Many of those who considered themselves religious are usually of the white demeanor, subsequently part of the superior grouping. Therefore, obtaining a different interpretation of religion. For instance, Rev. John Pichen on his meeting with Mrs. Gaines talk mentions the sin of stealing but failed to take in account the brutal treatment toward the slaves. In addition, Mrs.Gaines comments how the Reverend dialogue brings her closer to God.  Yet, she brutally beats her Hannah and offensively scolds her. Those aren’t principles expected from someone who claims to be Christian.

The concept of re-presentation embodies power, to sustain this power one has to set-up structures of control. This is achieved in the play through the mechanism of punishment and religion.


2 thoughts on “Formation”

  1. Nice. This analysis is pretty decent and presentation/representation/re-presentation is usually an important theme in slave narratives. Would have liked more analysis because it reads as though you have a good understanding of it. Good job!


  2. Commentary on Cato maybe would have been nice! He is a slave but presents himself as various things throughout the play in the presence of different company. When he takes out a fellow slave’s tooth pretending to be Dr. Gaines, he is re-presenting himself. His contempt for Southern slaves illustrate a representation of the difference in mindsets between Northern slaves and Southern slaves.

    Liked by 1 person

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