William Wells Brown Escape Themes

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William Wells Brown was born a slave in Lexington, Kentucky. Following his escape from slavery in 1834, he worked tirelessly as an abolitionist for the entirety of his life. His works, The Escape; or, A Leap For Freedom and Narrative of William Wells Brown, a Fugitive Slave are very similar in their overall themes. Many themes in the play can be directly linked to things seen by Brown during his experience as a slave. The characters in Brown’s play are clear representations of people he encountered in his life, as well as himself. The character that best represents Brown is Cato. Throughout the play, Cato took on a number of tasks, including his main job as a doctor. Brown also happened to be a “jack of all trades” while enslaved, working in a printing press, in a hotel, and on steamboats. The similarities between Brown and Cato extend beyond their work. In Brown’s narrative, while attempting to escape slavery with his mother, he tells her his ambitions for the future when they are no longer slaves. His plan to purchase a small farm in Canada translates directly into Cato’s ambitions in the play, where he says, “As soon as I get to Canada, I’ll set up a doctor shop, an’ won’t I be poplar?” (Brown, 58,…show more content…
It was not uncommon for slave owners to separate families and then force slaves to remarry. Brown recounts in his narrative the story of a woman named Lavinia, who resolved not to remarry once her husband was sold. She was practically whipped to death for her refusal to remarry. Brown was forced to marry a woman named Eliza, even though he “determined never to marry any woman on earth until [he] should get [his] liberty,” (Brown, 88, Narrative of William Wells Brown, a Fugitive Slave). In the play, Hannah and Cato were forced to marry against Hannah’s will. Hannah begged not to be married, but Cato refused to disobey his owners, so the two were married

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