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Mary Prince: Unlocking the Woman Hero
Born into Chains
Mary Prince was born a slave and even though that is no way for a child to grow up, it was her reality. It was the life she knew, but I believe that helped her see that that wasn't the life she was meant to lead, she was meant to be free. During her childhood she was treated with kindness for a while and was then forced to grow up before she was ready and realize the true horrors of slaver, the beatings, the rape, the murder. Growing up in that environment allowed her to see that there were two different types of people and in that she realized what slavery was and that slavery wasn't how people should be treated. Then there is an instance where she runs away to her father and instead of being a normal father, wanting to protect his little girl, he sends her back to her master because that's the only life he has known. Her childhood I feel helped her in her fight for freedom it opened her eyes to a different world and I think from then on she was determined to gain her freedom.
Female characters in literature have a way of sometimes slipping through the line breaks and getting lost among the jumbled words used to describe them. These women can in turn appear to be weak characters that rely on others, especially men to help them along in their journey. Now one could say that they in no way meet the requirements to earn the title of a hero, but I believe that would be a false statement. Because a sometimes a hero needs allies in order to achieve greatness, it’s all about how you can use what you have to your advantage in order to obtain what you truly want.
One of these female characters is Mary Prince. Now what is interesting about this character is that she was a real person and her autobiography “The History of Mary Prince” was published in 1831 and “was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Prince Mary Prince was born into slavery and despite her many hurtles she became a public figure for slavery. Her life story had a major impact on the anti-slavery movement during this time, where in the British Caribbean colonies slavery was still legal.
Mary Prince was a hero whose situation hindered her from achieving her goals. Her one goal was to be free from slavery; she even had saved up enough to nearly buy her own freedom. However, being a slave and having masters who refused to let her be free and happy, she remained a captive. Some in her situation may have given up and dies, but she stayed strong. Instead of being weak and seeing no hope among the hell she lived in, she stayed strong and became a powerful woman. No she didn’t save a country or avenge another, but she fought for her life and for her freedom and even though she jumped through hoops to get what she wanted, she eventually won.
Prince was severely beaten by many of her masters, but she never lost her faith and continues to hang onto life when most would quit. She refused to allow the beatings to beat her into believing what she wanted wasn’t possible, and in that she is a true hero. She can be a sign to women everywhere to never give up no matter how hard your struggle is, because even though things seem rough no one can take away your pride and your will to succeed. I could never imagine what people back then went through, families being torn apart, women being raped, and children being killed. That is a horror that I will never have to endure, but people like Mary Prince did and to them that was their reality. When reading her story I noticed that there were many instances when she would stand up to her masters and she never seemed afraid that they’d kill her or beat her. She was a fighter and a woman who other women can look up to for strength and courage when they find themselves in situations that seem unbearable. In my opinion she holds the qualities of a woman hero: she’s strong in mind and faith, she’s brave, and she’s a protector (there is a part in her story where she actually defends her master’s daughter when he is beating her, she stepped in even though this young girl was not hers to protect) she has all of the qualities of a woman hero, yet still maintaining her feminine qualities. What I mean by that is, she is never masculine in her story. Other women that I have read about in other literature seem to carry masculine qualities with them, but I don’t get a sense of that with Mary Prince. No I do love a good woman hero who takes risks and seeks out vengeance and having zero disregards for the consequences, but she might as well wear a black mask and a cape and go by the name Batman. I tend to hold a higher place for characters like Mary Prince because she has struggled and known difficult times. She is a woman who could teach others how to overcome the bad and still have faith when the world has seemed to turn a blind eye and essentially given up on those who are fighting for their very lives.
So hero or just a strong female who overcame her label and freed herself, read her story for yourself and you be the judge.
Mary Prince Story
Lecture on Slavery
Found this interesting lecture on slavery in Great Britain, it goes over British history of slavery including Mary Prince. I thought it was a nicely done piece and helps give a bit more background.