Although there were many slaves who were very important during the 1700’s, there were two specific slaves who are very influential to American Literature. Olaudah Equiano and Phillis Wheatley are writers that wrote about their life experiences. Their life experiences affected their writing and became significant to the study of American literature because of their backgrounds, education, and their voice for slaves.
Olaudah Equiano and Phillis Wheatley, both, born in Africa, were kidnapped by slave traders at a very young age. According to the textbook The Language of Literature: American Literature, Equiano born in 1745 was kidnapped at the age of eleven (1756) from a small village in Africa called Essaka. His father was the ruler of this village and his fathers place was supposed to be passed down to Equiano but it didn’t happen because he was kidnapped (99). Wheatley born a few years later in 1753 was kidnapped by slave traders in 1761 (American Literature 288). During this gap, United States had barely won their independence in 1775. This is significant because United States left England because they were being treated unfairly; ironically they were treating slaves unfairly. Although they were born a few years apart, they were still treated fairly different because of their background. For instance, Equiano had a better slave life than Wheatley because he was a male, therefore he had more of an advantage and was able to travel with his owners and be educated. Wheatley being a female slave was not entitled to an education or other “privileges” that male slaves had. Because of the different backgrounds, their writing was different than anyone elses. Equiano wrote about his experience on a slaveship while Wheatley wrote poems and a letter of the inequality among slaves and religion.
A major factor in their importance to American literature is their education. Many slaves ...
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