- Term Papers and Free Essays

The Known World

Essay by   •  December 24, 2010  •  1,140 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,200 Views

Essay Preview: The Known World

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Control is an interesting thing for it comes in many different disguises; it can be masked as power, as freedom - but these are merely illusions.

People believe that they are truly free when they have control [p3] over others and are the ones in the powerful positions (positions of power). They strive for control and power in their lives hoping that it will offer them salvation and freedom and in return make life easier and give them an upper hand. However, freedom [p4] is unobtainable.

The antebellum south is a perfect example of this. The white southerners had complete control over slaves and the actions of African-Americans so they believed that they were in fact free. They were content, secure, and comfortable with their slaves because they had the ability and the authority to monitor their actions and treat them however they chose. This control gave them a sense of freedom and security. But no вЂ" this feeling was nothing more than an illusion of freedom and a false sense of security.

Henry in The Known World by Edward Jones believed in this false freedom. He was in fact born into slavery on a large plantation with minimal rights and maximum work but he grew to have a strong bond with the master William Robbins. Although he had more privileges than others on the plantation, he still had very little control over his life and his situation. When he was finally bought out of slavery he made the decision to become a slave owner and run a plantation with his own hired help. This is because he desired the control Robbins had. He believed that the more control he had the freer he would actually be.

Although Henry was a prominent person in the community and was in the control of many slaves and a large plantation, he was still just an African-American and still enslaved. Outside the borders of Manchester Country, Virginia, he would be viewed as just another slave who had managed escaped from home and, due to the Fugitive Slave Act, could be brought back at any time. He would still feel the cold glares of white landowners with their blasphemous scowls of superiority; the same cold glares that dehumanize the slaves and decreased his feeling of freedom

African-American slave owners, such as Henry, as well as white slave owners really only had as much freedom as the people they were enslaving; however they felt superior because of their [p5] control and authority[p6] . The African-Americans during this time were physically enslaved with intense work labor waiting for the day when they would be freed from the control of their masters. Although this day would eventually come when Abraham Lincoln introduced the Emancipation Proclamation, it was different than expected. The Proclimation [p7] did not remove the glaring eyes [p8] from white southerners as they walked through the streets, and it certainly did not eliminate the thoughts of hatred and prejudices brewing inside people’s heads. Viewing a freed slave as an equal counterpart of society was like giving up a piece of their freedom for a previous slave owner and that was not something any of them were willing to give up. [p9]

To the white southerners, freedom was based on their ability to control and manipulate others, thus slave owners treating freed slaves as equal was like giving up a fraction of their freedom. Freedom is something that everyone wants and deserves, but in reality there is no such thing; no one is free. The upper class during the antebellum period thought they were free because they were not the ones being physically enslaved, but reallyвЂ"they were nowhere near free. They still had to abide by the laws of the country, were reprimanded for their wrongdoings, and were under the control external of the government.

Even if the white



Download as:   txt (6.3 Kb)   pdf (91.3 Kb)   docx (10.9 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 12). The Known World. Retrieved 12, 2010, from

"The Known World" 12 2010. 2010. 12 2010 <>.

"The Known World.", 12 2010. Web. 12 2010. <>.

"The Known World." 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010.