The Relationship between William Wells Brown’s The Escape Subject Matter and the Genre

William Wells Brown’s text The Escape depicts the subject of slavery as its focal point. The play utilizes the genre of sentimentalism to appeal to the audience’s emotion and compel them to relate to the characters within the story. For example, individuals can relate to the difficulties faced by Glen and Melinda who are in love with each other, but are forbidden to marry. Thus, the relationship between the subject matter and the genre in this text is that they build upon one another to produce a sense of emotion for the audience, where they are given an inside view of the characters’ lives and through their own experience can feel exactly what the characters are encountering. This play contains are few of the characteristics of a sentimentalism genre in terms of emotion of romance, over understanding in emotion, goodness in humans. For example, romance is displayed through characters such as Glen and Melinda and Sam and Hannah. On the other hand, you can also view the aspect of “goodness in humans” when white elites like the masters seek Christianity or label themselves as Christians even though they mistreat their slaves and split husband and wives up. Then following such actions, they blame their behavior on the slave rather than taking full responsibility for their doings. In this sense one can observe that although the master commit wrong doings they still strive to see good in themselves by placing the label of Christianity upon them. Therefore, the relationship between the two is that they depict similar aspects because the subject matter is composed utilizing the characteristics of this genre and so the text contains everything that coincides with sentimentalism. Meaning that the play will hold some sort of relatable relationship with this genre since it involves characters that exhibit or perform actions that categorizes as sentimentalism. For many of the characters within this play as far as Act 1-3 exhibit emotion towards a particular person or situation whether it be anger, love, obsessiveness, control, values etc. For example, when Mrs. Gaines whip Hannah, she blames her for the lashing by stating that Hannah provokes her into doing so. Yet, it is quite obvious that her anger stems from other aspects within the play.



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