12 Years of Slave: Significant Issues of the Film

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The film 12 Years of Slaves is based on the autobiographical story of Solomon Northup. The film, annals the strenuous experiences of slavery and the dehumanizing effects of human oppression. This film portrayals the years of slavery withstood by Solomon Northup, an African American man who is a free citizen in New York. Inebriated from drinking, two men erroneously offers him work, he awakens in chains, before being quickly transported to the South to an existence of indentured servitude.

The film opens with the enslaved Solomon Northup in a field with other slaves and after that discloses to Northup’s story in an expanded flashback. Northup was a freeman in New York. He is “hitched” with two children and is a well accomplished violinist. Two men allure him to Washington D.C., with the guarantees of a high-paid occupation playing music in a circus of sorts. The two men sedate Northup and deliver him to a slave pen, from which he is transported to New Orleans and sold by a slave dealer as a runaway slave named Platt to kind plantation owner named Ford. Northup brings about the ill will of Ford’s slave handler, Tibeats. Tibeats arrays to have Northup lynched, but Ford’s boss, Chapin, stops the lynching minutes before Northup is actually hanged. Due to Tibeats’s loathing, Ford sells Northup to Epps, an alcoholic and vicious plantation owner. On Epps’s plantation, Northup becomes friends with another slave names Patsey. Epps often pays attention to Patsey, uttering his obsession by raping her, and his jealous wife repeatedly attacking her.

At a certain point, Epps decides that Patsey has to be discipline, and he forces Northup to whip her. Northup’s frequent attempts to regain his freedom; finally happens when Bass, a Canadian abolitionist filing in as a procured hand for Epps, is persuaded that Northup’s story is true and alarms authority in Northup’s hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. A sheriff comes with a neighbor of Northup’s from Saratoga, and he is released. In chapter four of the book, Forging the Modern World by James Carter and Richard Warren addresses the slave system. In the section The Sugar-Slave Plantation System talks about how the Europeans settled in the Caribbean and on terrain America. The Spanish settled Jamaica and Cuba, among different other islands. “In 1607 the English built up a settlement on the east shore of America, known as Virginia. In 1623 and 1625, they settled the islands of Barbados and St. Kitts in the Caribbean. In 1655 the British took the island of Jamaica from the Spanish” (). Tobaccos and cotton could be developed by farmers with the assistance from a few farm workers. The local people had been wiped out due to the first European settlers.

So, farmers were brought from Europe while on the British islands, these farmers were indentured servants and sentenced prisoners. Indentured servants are women and men who consented to work for a given number of years for a fixed wage, their board and cost of their voyage out to the islands. Sentenced prisoners could be transported to the plantations for a given amount of terms, rather than being killed or imprisoned. This framework did not supply enough labors as the tobacco farms became sugar plantations. Sugar required a huge number of workers. The Portuguese had been utilizing enslaved Africans to grow sugar in the Madeira Islands since 1460. Africa was nearer to the Caribbean than Europe was. African atmosphere was similar to the Caribbean. Europeans claimed that the “uncivilized” African was not human. This kind of reasoning enabled the inhumanity of slavery to be dismissed.

Therefore, Africa appeared to be the obvious place to for labor for the sugar plantations. There was a strict “social order” on the plantations. The white owner was at the highest of the social structure. Under the white owner are other white employees, for example, book keeper and overseers. Among the black slaves, carpenters or sugar boilers are above ordinary field slaves. The head of the field slaves were women and men called “drivers,” who jobbed is to keep the field slaves working diligently, by using the whip if necessary. Those slaves worked in the house were thought to be of a higher status than a field slaved. It would be a horrible punishment for a house servant to be put to do field work due to the lighter obligations in the house. There was an order based on skin tones. The darkest slaves normally had the hardest job/work. The light-skinned slaves, frequently the offspring of the owner or manager by slave woman, were given the better jobs or kept as the house servants or trained for a job. A few slaves worked in towns, however majority worked on plantations for 12 hours or more a day. Plantation work required numerous hands. Sugar particularly was a labor-intensive job, and everybody was required to work, including kids and old slaves. Work on a plantation relied upon the harvest development. For instance, the process of sugar, required different skills from those needed for tobaccos and rice. There were skilled jobs which Africans did: such as blacksmiths, sugared boilers, carpenters etc. These jobs generally went to men. Women for the most did the hands-on work, however some worked as house slaves. Frequently, men were brought from Africa as slaves compared to women, but some plantation owners favored women as the “harder laborers”.

Sometimes women outnumbered the men which meant that they had to do all the heavy fieldwork such as digging and cutting. Moreover, “marriages between slaves was demoralized although many slaves formed connections and had children” (). Frequently the relationship was with a slave from different estate. “Plantation owners were known to arrange a spouse or accomplice to flog his own wife for an offence” ( ). In the event that the slaved claimed by various estate, that couldn’t occur. Slaves women were routinely assaulted by white men on the estate, by their owner or a white employee. A few women were forced to utilized sexual favor to white men in order to survive or to acquire better conditions. The triangle slave trade began vigorously. Prior to this, the small number of Africans had been kidnapped or purchased by Europeans and taken to Europe or to European-claimed islands.

In any case, as the development of the sugar plantation took off, and the demand for labor increase, the quantities of enslaved Africans transported to the Caribbean islands and to mainland North and South America expanded massively. The presentation of the historical event was a fair presentation because the director Steve McQueen’s extraordinary direction utilized close ups and poignant images of rustic Louisiana in the times of slavery, which just added to the colossal tragedy of Northup’s frightening story. Enslaved people are normally depicted as having “trees of scars” on their back which is the consequence of brutal whippings they got from their masters or other people. This film shows the consistency of such treatment. In one incident, Epps forced Solomon Northup to whip another slave, Patsey, to the point where fell down from pain.

However, Patsey’s “wrongdoing” was to leave the plantation in search of a bar of soap to wash herself. I believe that the director Steve McQueen presented different perspectives fairly because the film startlingly precise and evident record of the common slave experience in the South. This film serves as timeless indictment of the practices of “chattel bondage” or “human slavery” (). Northup’s enumerating the abuse he endured and those he was forced to incur warns all generation of the moral cost that slavery demands from everyone involved. The slave herself or himself is debased, created to endure awful torments, and brutally robbed of emotional, physical and riches.

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12 Years of Slave: Significant Issues of The Film. (2019, Jan 08). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/12-years-of-slave-significant-issues-of-the-film/

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