Madison Garni

World Studies
Kelly 1st/ Whipple 6th

Garni 1

The Essence of Slavery

Gothic literature has always been known for its dark themes and during the
antebellum era it was oh so evident. During this time there were many dark elements but none
greater than that of slavery which was a constant discussion among politicians such as the ones
from the United States of America which might have just had the greatest fight over this subject
known to man. It was a struggle as two sides were formed and each allowed for people to see
their point but truly was just showing what was wrong with the others idea. Slavery itself showed
the world of the darkness which people are capable of and just how awful we truly are by
presenting the cruelties which people can put others in. How slavery's darkness can be
represented by gothic literature then becomes quite clear as we look closer into this event in
human history.

We as humans are inclined to know what is right and what isn't even if we don't actually
do the right thing. When looking back at slavery, guilt was riddled throughout the time period
with many people publicly showing support for or against slavery while in private, did the
opposite. Thomas Jefferson was one of these people as in his time he publicly said that slavery
was bad and that no good would come from slavery either from the point of view of the master
or the slaves themselves. However, in private he owned plantations of thousands of acres and
hundreds of slaves who lived there so that he could reap the personal benefits that owning slaves
in these numbers did for someone during this time. This displays guilt because although he
knows that slavery is wrong and sees that others see that too, his personal profit is too important
for him to do the right thing when he could have more wealth. What he is undertaking isn't right

Garni 2

but he continues to do it as it nets him a handsome profit giving him personal reasons over
universal. These are all symbols of guilt as he tried to conceal his true identity on the subject
while displaying to the world a different side of him. As more and more people in this time felt
the need to voice their opinion on this subject, specifically in the north, they began to become the
majority of the country with a majority overwhelming majority. By the time Lincoln was
president, the bulk of the people in the country lived in the north and the majority didn't support
slavery but continued to allow it because the few southerners did. Other countries had gotten
how bad slavery was as even our old rival Britain had gotten rid of it over half a century earlier
yet America hadn't and it was a country born off of freedom. How could a country born to such
pure ideas as these become so awful with limiting them? It was the buildup of grief of these
limitations that led to the civil war and ultimately true freedom. Such as when Stephen Crane in
his poem 'In the Desert' describes this creature as "naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the
ground" ate his heart before stating that it tasted " bitter-bitter," showing that he isn't the best
and something has happened in the past which has soured himself and his reputation. Like this
creature in the poem, America began to see this within its country and started to regret what
slavery had become in the country allowing for guilt to take over and help play a part in
changing this.

Ultimately it was inevitable for slavery to end as a group of people can only be oppressed
for so long. Throughout history people have been oppressed continuously but always come out
on top with more freedoms and more equality. It is in any person that good will come out as only

Garni 3

so much guilt can build up in someone before they cave in. With Edger Allen Poe‟s piece „The
Tell-Tale Heart‟ The main character gives in as he says to the police “tear up the planks! Here,
here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!” (Poe, 4) presenting to the audience that guilt had
taken over his head as he couldn‟t bear to live on with himself after killing someone who he
knew to be innocent. Slavery brought guilt to the people of the US and forced them into action
over something that was long overdue and finally leading slaves to the same freedoms that the
American founding fathers wanted for its people. It was the sense of responsibility for this harm
that changed slavery, it was the feeling that we had done wrong, it was guilt.

Garni 4

Works Cited

Crane, Stephen. In The Desert, The Black Riders and Other Lines
USA. Copeland and Day. May 11, 1895. Print

Poe, Edgar Allen. The Tell-Tale Heart, and Other Stories
London: J. Lehmann 1948. Print

Related Interests