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Response to Wheatley

posted Jan 18, 2011 16:05:54 by Seancorc
In response to question #3:

First of all, Wheatley's tone seems really thankful or appreciative, which is significant considering what she's being thankful about: being taken from her homeland and being taught of God (while enslaved), or as she says, "brought me from my Pagan land" (1). This is especially strange due to the fact she's probably treated rather poorly. However, it's easy to understand her happiness, even as a more non-theistic person, because it stands as hope for Phillis Wheatley, and as something she has to hold onto in a world that's not exactly welcoming, which she acknowledges: "Some view our sable race with a scornful eye,/'Their colour is a diabolical dye'" (5-6). The point is, she's writing as if becoming a slave was the best thing that has ever happened to her because she now is "redeemed" and "refin'd" and such, leading me to believe non-slaves at the time probably reacted very positively to the poem. It likely made them feel like they were doing something good, as if they did this girl a favor by enslaving her and teaching her about Christianity, which would also help them evade guilt (unfortunately). This is also supported by the fact that she was apparently encouraged to write and had her works published in local newspapers.
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