William Wells Brown the Work(s)

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

This further reveals the life misfortunes that mulatto people experienced despite the brief life transformation into temporary comforts.

The novel, as played within the 19th century, reveals that Thomas Jefferson involved in an intimate relation with his slave; Sally Hemings, and gave rise to several children with her. Being of a mixed race with nearly white features, readers were made to believe that Sally was a half-sister to Sir Jefferson's wife, Martha Weyles, the last born among the six children of her father John Wayles and his slave Betty Hemings. The Hemings family was part of the hundreds of slaves inherited by Martha and Jefferson after the death of her father. Here, there is a theme of powerlessness, inability or hopelessness by the slaves as they are constantly inherited from parents to their children. Despite Jefferson's failure to respond to the rumor, historians believe Jefferson was never at ease with the slaves' trade. The novel reveals this assertion by the fact that Jefferson freed four Hemings' children as they became of age, he lets Beverly (male) together with his sister Harriet to escape from Monticello, and later freed two slaves by his will. Nevertheless, he remained in heavy debts after making this decision. Here, the author reveals the beginning of slave abolition and African-Americans freedom resulting from the growing movements of abolition. Jefferson's daughter offered Hemings time so that she could live freely within Charlottesville with her two sons; Eston Hemings and Madison for the rest of her life.

On the contrary, Jefferson participated in the commonly witnessed sexual exploitation of female slaves. Even if William does not explicitly prioritize the violation involved in such relationship, he reveals both the indifference of slave owners and the humiliations of slavery life. What Brown clearly portrays throughout the Clotel then, is the recurring and pervasive victimization of the mixed-race women under slavery. He also exposes the intersection of political ambitions and economic gains, represented by the naissance fathers, such as Horatio who works so much harder to preserve this "weird" institution. Such effects marked the nation's exalted place as a mainstay of democracy (Hover 254).

After undergoing an isolated happiness for a few pleasurable years, Clotel, like her sister and mother, meets a tragic ending. Together with Horatio, she secretly lives harmoniously, and joyously shares in the birth of her daughter Mary, however, Horatio's political aspirations disrupts their union. Since the mixed-race marriages were illegal within Virginia, just as the southern states, Horatio involves in an affair with a local politician's daughter, neglecting his first wife and daughter. This made Horatio marry a white, Gertrude, but occasionally visited Mary at her residential place. Soon, the new Mrs. Greene discovers the existence of Mary and Clotel when she stumbled upon the cabin and becomes startled by Mary's extreme resemblance to her husband; Horatio. Immediately, she orders for Clotel's enslavement. Later, Dick Walker purchases Clotel and Gertrude takes Mary to her home as a house servant. She manages to escape while disguised like a man and returns to Virginia in order to rescue her child. On the other hand, Clotel is discovered and imprisoned. She manages to escape again and rather than facing further debasement, she throws herself into River Potomac, about a few miles away from the White House, her father once lived. Altheas married her white owner; Morton Henry, a Northerner with whom they bore two daughters; Ellen and Jane. Upon the death of Morton and Althesa, the two daughters face enslavement, an effect that makes Ellen commit suicide in order to escape the rampant sexual harassment. Jane dies later as a result of heartbreak. This elicits the nature of brutality, torture and sexual harassment that the black women underwent.

Critical Analysis

In his novel; the Clotel: or, the President's Daughter, Wells Brown demonstrates the recurring and pervasive victimization of the mixed-race women under the bondage of slavery. Any individual of the mulatto status, who attempted to pass as a white nonetheless suffered terribly. This exposes the intersection of economic gain, together with the political ambitions as represented by the founding abolition fathers. It is a comprehensive, catching and a sarcastic critique of slavery within the American South, racial discrimination within the American North, as well as the religious hypocrisy within the whole of American notion.

The title of this novel walks a precious line of distinction between the oral and written history, as well as the artistic license. Several contemporary analyses carried out by the recent scholars on the aspects of gender and racial representations within the Clotel, portrays the heroic figure and tragic characters of the mulatto. For instance, through gender and racial representations, Brown portrays both the "heroic figures" and "tragic central characters" as mulattoes exhibiting the Anglo features, comparable to his own appearance (Alice 265). He uses the events of "nearly white" slaves to obtain sympathy for his characters. Brown also borrowed some elements from Lydia Maria; an abolitionist's plot of her short story "The Quadroons." Additionally, he incorporated some noticeable elements of the contemporary events, such as the Crafts' escape, and the Salome's freedom suit court-case, that is, a Louisiana slave who claimed to be a German native-born immigrant.

According to Alice, Wells portrayed his female characters as quasi-victims of slavery, and as representations of the cult of domesticity and true women, which emphasizes women's time (243). He did not portray women as freedom seekers or wanting freedom, but portrayed them as individuals who exist through love and suffering. Their existence through love narrows down to having sex with their masters in order to get favor and gain the "temporary freedom." For instance, Cutter enquires if Mary could manage to free George while she cannot free herself. Despite the subsequent publications of Clotei into other three versions, Brown did not make any notable change to the characterization of the mulatto or African-American women. To elaborate on this, several African-American women escaped from the slavery, including Ellen Craft; however, William did not portray such women to be full-freedom achievers. Instead, they ended up dying in the bondage of slavery, in the name of "sexual love" for their masters. Other women legally changed freedom suits by slavery, via the courts.

Besides being the first African-American published novel, Clotel has become the model to other African-American writers. This novel creates the first instance through which the African-American writers dramatized the underlying concepts of hypocrisy, and the democratic principles facing the mulatto slavery (Chaney 432). Through this historical work, Brown introduced into African-American literature "the tragic mulatto character." William Wells' novel, Clotel comes in to teach the contemporary readers a wide range of the historical setting, that is, through using the reiterated primary documentary source and his proximity to the actual slavery period. Even if the readers of this novel remind themselves of the fictionalized account of Clotel, the actual brutality, cruelty and torture of the slaves are not only true, but are also extremely vivid (Glenda 79). This goes alongside the scenarios of children being born and sold into sexual slavery. Through the representation of diverse characters with contradicting views on slavery, Wells is capable of demonstrating through his summary of Clotel, and in relation to the themes, that slavery was not just a minor issue. Slavery was multifaceted and divisive; hence the novel's readers are granted the deep insights into slavery, which do not appear biased or regimented (Hover 249).

Owing to the short summary of William Brown's Clotel: or the President's Daughter, it is notable that the author presents diversity of complex characters, which even if offered the literary recognition stereotypes of the era, equally have some complex aspects of relationships with their slavery institutions. For instance, the readers view white men as individuals who fall in love with the weak, defenseless and/or vulnerable slavery women. Through the use of extensive characterization and presentation of the sheer number of characters, Brown does not only leave the reader with a single impression of the historical period, but he also offers the readers with a host diverse ways of thinking over the slavery period in question. Clotel; or the President's Daughter presents a great deal of information on the historical period to the readers, by giving a number of events, as well as viewpoint and documentation. The novel offers an accurate viewpoint of the historical slavery setting since, instead of just depending on the author's fictional stories of tackling the question f slavery (Glenda 163). For instance, the author opens and engages with a variety of primary documents in order to create a strong foundation for his arguments. Even if the stories and the characters were not actual they lend to a greater degree, the narrative authenticity, which are not given by fiction stories.

For example, when speaking about the city of Natchez and the way it "enjoyed" the notoriety of barbarity and inhumanity of its inhabitants, the author provides information to the readers through…