My Impressions from 12 Years a Slave

Category: Movies
Date added
Pages:  3
Words:  820
Order Original Essay

How it works

Slavery was extremely important to America. I mean, it led to a civil war and it also lasted a very long time, looking back to 1619 through the 1800’s, this is over 200 years. However, slavery is most important because we still struggle with its legacy today. The film, 12 Years a Slave, is aimed specifically at topical issues of slavery. The story really depicts the struggles African Americans were subjected to for these 12 years, the bondage of slavery and first hand, their experiences. The film, 12 years a slave, also reflects many proslavery arguments that were discussed throughout our lectures and textbook. The defenders of slavery included economics, history, religion, legality, social good, and even humanitarianism, to further theirarguments.

Most of these Southern plantation owners supported slavery for aspirational reasons, and partly because the racism inherent to the system gave even the poorest whites legal and social status. Southern intellectuals worked hard to encourage these ideas of white solidarity and to make the case for slavery. Many of the founders that held slaves, saw slavery as a necessary evil, like Master Epps. Some Southerners would even argue that slaves benefited from slavery. Because, you know, their masters fed them and took care of them in their old age. At the end of the film when Mr. Northup is getting taken back home to his family and the white northerners come to fetch him and vouch for his freedom, Master Epps cries out about how “he paid good money for his slave and how Platt is his property.” This paternalism allowed masters to see themselves as benevolent and to contrast their family-oriented slavery with the cold, mercenary Capitalism of the free-labor North. In the face of rising criticism of slavery, some Southerners began to argue that the institution was actually good for social order.

White people loved to justify this insanity with Biblical passages and with examples of the Greeks and Romans and with outright racism, arguing that black people were inherently inferior to whites. In the film 12 years a slave, Master Edwin Epps says, “And that servant which knew his Lord’s will… which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not himself… prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes…” D’ye hear that? “Stripes.” That nigger that don’t take care, that don’t obey his lord – that’s his master – d’ye see? – that ‘ere nigger shall be beaten with many stripes. Now, “many” signifies a great many. Forty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty lashes… that’s Scripture.” People actually believed that to not keep blacks in slavery, would upset the natural order of things. Another example of a biblical justification Master Epps used was where his crops had gotten bugs and he says, “A plague! It’s damn Biblical. Two season God done sent a plague to smite me. I am near ruination. Why, Treach? What I done that God hate me so? Do I not preach His word?” “It’s that Godless lot. They brought this on me. I bring ’em God’s word, and heathens they are, they brung me God’s scorn.” And he actually sent his slaves away until his plantation had rid of the bugs. The truth about slavery? It was coerced labor that relied upon intimidation and brutality and dehumanization. This wasn’t just a cultural system, it was a legal one. In the movie, Master Epps says to Platt, “By law and as a slave, you owe your master a respect without bounds, and an absolute obedience.” The signal feature of these slaves lives, was work. The conditions and tasks varied from master to master, but all slaves labored, usually lasted from sunup to sundown, and almost always without any pay.

As we saw in the movie, Master Ford, the original slave owner Platt was sold to, treated him somewhat decent and even gifted him a fiddle to thank him for his work. However, Master Epps was extremely cruel and brutal. My personal response to this film was moving. This film, 12 years a slave, really opened my eyes to the cruelty and the horrid treatment being endured by these enslaved people. I mean we learn about it in school and through experiences and meeting people, but this film really put me in their shoes and the violent side of the film really did it justice and portrayed the image of what was necessary. The whipping and the scars, those people and their ancestors will never forget and can never regain the freedom that was rightfully theirs. I learned a lot about how the women were willing to sell their bodies to prevent harsh treatment. I didn’t realize that plantation owners would actually pick these enslaved women over their wives or mistresses. Like Master Epps and choosing Patsey over his Mistress. Overall, I loved the film and would recommend it to anyone and definitely will be re-watching. Do need a stomach for certain scenes though!

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

My Impressions From 12 Years a Slave. (2019, Jan 29). Retrieved from

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay

Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper