“Escape” William Wells Brown

The title “The Escape; or The Leap for Freedom” itself speaks volume of what this drama entails. This drama is as mentioned a sentimental piece that shows that even in that era, even though slaves were not considered human beings they valued love, family and friends just like their slave masters. Sentimentalism is shown throughout the play based on Glen and Melinda characters who embrace love and compassion towards each other. When looking at the characters of Glen and Melinda they capture the audience attention through their emotions shown towards each other. Through their interaction and showing of emotions, it appeals to many because it can be seen as relatable by any man or woman who is in love with their significant other. Melinda shows her true commitment to her husband by willing to sacrifice herself (willing to die) to save her husbands life. This gives the audience a true sense of how both characters is willing to  risk it all to be with each other if only for one more day.

When looking at the Cato character in this drama he can be considered a hypocrite to his own but then again he knows how to play the part. Cato goes into character when dealing with his massa ‘Dr. Gaines’ by being submissive. He puts on a show for his master by obeying his every word but when it comes to his own ‘niggers like himself’ he sees them as beneath him. Cato choose to show his loyalty to his master to in turn get better treatment than the other slaves. For example Cato did not truly love Hannah but to make his master wife ‘Mrs. Gaines’ happy he agreed to marry Hannah. His character shows no loyalty to anyone but himself, which can be seen as him protecting himself or being a sell out to his own people. This can be seen as a way of him ‘escaping’ his harsh reality as a slave.

Sentimentalism is shown through Mr. White character when speaking about freedom in Massachusetts  and it being a free country “why are there still slaves?”. Him speaking of this in turn irate the other men who does not agree with the idea of blacks having their freedom . Mr. White speaks freely about slavery and how it is one of the worst things that can ever happen to any man. Him speaking passionately against slavery in their state resulted in him being treated poorly and his life being threatened. Mr. White shows compassion to everyone whether black or white but in return he is bashed. In turn he has to find a way to escape the same punishment slaves endure on a daily basis. In this play it can be shown that everyone in some way is trying to escape something whether it’s physical, mental or emotional.

 

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