The Harsh System of Colonialism in Brown’s “Escape”

This genre clearly resembles the sentimental era as feelings and emotions are evoked in the audience through the discussion of the separation of the slaves Glenda and Melinda. As Brown discusses the feelings that both slaves have for one another, the sentimental aspect is displayed as the audience feels a sense of anger toward the institution of slavery for its cruel actions of forbidden true young black love. When Brown speaks of the white slave master’s reason for forbidding black marriages, the cruel system of colonialism is highlighted through this act. This is shown by the masters’ representation and re-presentation of the slaves as their property which justifies their inhumane treatment of the slaves.

In close lines with the “Escape Or A Leap for Freedom,” Brown vividly highlights the power of the discourse which the white slave owners use to define blacks through their view to benefit their own interests. This is performed in this way because it gives agency and voice to subaltern blacks who were silenced for a very long time through the cruel system of slavery.
Brown’s play gives many subtle messages about the society in that the play tackles issues of racism. The white slave master Dr.Gaines views slaves like Cato, Melinda, Glen as property and chooses not to associate closely with blacks because they are seen as inferior. Brown suggests that society is constructed in terms of race ( white, black), seen evidently in the scene when “Massa” leaves Cato in charge of the office procedures. The white slave owners represent the slaves as property and inferior, subhuman which is also perpetuated by other black slaves. In the case of Cato, a young, black slave this is seen when he turns against another black slave by informing Dr.Gaines that Hannah had stolen a goose for a meal. Brown is showcasing the power of the divide and conquer strategy that the white slave masters use to continuously segregate blacks which helped to maintain power and control.
Additionally, “The Escape”, highlights the role of religious discourse as long as it benefitted the slave owners. In the scene with Mrs.Gaines and Rev. Pinchen, religion is discussed and all the positive aspects of religion are used by the white slave masters to disenfranchise and marginalize slaves through Rev. Pinchen’s “religious experience”. Brown chose to represent this in that way because he wants to highlight the hypocritical nature of slave masters through his play.
Brown tackles ideas about art by structuring the play in an informal style which is seen throughout the dialogue between the characters. The white slave masters are speaking in Standard English while blacks are speaking in creole. In some instances, Cato is represented as vacuous in the dialogue as he often spells words incorrectly. For example, “intment”. The play reveals many social and cultural comments that are concealed through a humorous tone which is criticizing the institution of slavery in a subtle yet straightforward way.


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