Sample Literature Review Paper on the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Written forms of literature are core in society, seeing that they are used to relay societal
matters to readers. Articles are some of the critical types of written literature, and they address
the distinct issue in society through the central themes presented by authors. The context of a
given text matters, seeing that it determines the structuring of the entire elements of a work in
communicating the author's convictions to readers. Janelle Collin's "Passage to Slavery, Passage
to Freedom: Equiano" is one of the most influential contemporary texts that has attracted many
scholars and readers. The article provides an analysis of the famous text " The Life of Olaudah
Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African." The paper provides an effective analysis of the text
regarding its genre, the author's cultural identity, and the significance of water imagery to assess
slaves' experiences and inequality.
The article acknowledges how important "The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus
Vassal, the African" an ancient and contemporary society. The text asserts that Equiano's
narrative has literary-historical and social value to society due to the influence it had on the
comprehension of slavery and subsequent abolition of the same. The text highlights that Equian's
text entails an autobiographical representation of the experiences that characterized slavery,
making it a great contribution to the accounts of suffering in slavery. H ere, Collins appeals to
the readers' logos by providing credible evidence about the significance of Equiano's work.

Surname 2
Collins starts by noting that the slave narrative is typically perceived as a work that uses
autobiography persuasively " to argue against the inhumanity and injustice of the institution of
slavery"(210). This assertion directly qualities Equiano's work as a slave narrative. Collins
further notes that the definition of the slave narrative genre has been expanded to perceive it as
an early black autobiography. Equiano's work satisfies this extensive definition as well because it
presents " an African identity that was neither primitive nor idealized," core in reconstructing the
idealized presentation of Africans in earlier texts (Collins 210).
Collins moves ahead to scrutinize Equiano's identity concerning the context of his work "
The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassal, the African." She notes that the title is the
clearest depiction of Equiano's identity as an African man who has been through European
experiences. This is mainly through the allusion to different names. The article notes Equiano
reclaimed his African name for textual self-creation and to re-establish an African identity
without foregoing his British name. His life as a slave in Virginia and voyages across Europe
gives him a multi-cultural identity instrumental in the multi-genre depiction of Equiano's
narrative (Collins 212).
The paper further looks at the link between Equiano's experience and the sea. The sea
becomes an instrumental symbol for His journey across Europe, seeing that it is " the conduit
through which Equiano touches the shores of the three continents " (Collins 212). Collins notes
that " sea imagery in the narrative functions as a rhetorical mirror of the fluidity represented in
Equiano's identity." Collins notes that Equiano faces the injustices inherent in a racist society as
an enslaved African aboard all the trading vessels across the three continents, and his
experiences present readers with an account of the " brutal slave trade" (213). Again, all his
experiences as he lives around Europe through the sea enables him to get firsthand experience

Surname 3
with White's treatments, allowing him to relate a " counter tale, a contradiction of the colonial
narrative about Africa and African. This aspect makes the sea imagery very symbolic in the
entire narrative. He presents a culture that is " orderly, hardworking, and moral" attributes that
are rarely linked with savages (Collins 214). The article notes that Equiano is keen to contrast the
humane treatment by African masters from the inhumane treatment by the whites. This
difference is " symbolized by the literal movement from the interior of Africa to the coast.
Equiano's account also reverses colonial travel by showcasing an African's voyage from
civilization and freedom to Savagery and subjugation (Collins 214). The whites' account of their
colonial exploration starts from the sea and moves to the presumed darkness of the African
continent, a perception which indirectly showcases the whites in an appealing light and Africans
as the primitive being that needed awakening.
Collins's work further assesses Equiano's narrative as a tale of the sea. The article notes
that Equiano's tale of their journey on a ship is not just a story but a confession of the awful
experiences that the black slaves went through while on the ship. The state of the slave ship,
which is boundless, contrasts with the constrained state of the Africans and undergo " inhumane
and incomprehensible treatment"(Collins 215). Also, the narrative presents a contrasting image
of the see as a freedom site, as Equiano confesses that he presumed the inhabitants if the deep to
be happier than himself, and he wished a shift of condition. Equiano's constant movements
across the sea trigger enculturation that merges his African identity with Western culture,
instrumental to his struggle to regain freedom.
The article also notes that the sea's ample experience sharpened his skills, including
commerce, literacy, and mathematics. He soon engaged in numerous activities and partook in

Surname 4
numerous voyages trying to better his life. However, he loathes the sea for its representation
constraint more than freedom in his life.
Collins effectively provides readers with an insight into Equiano's narrative. The article
shows that Equiano's text is an effective Slavery narrative that accurately presents the
experiences of Black slavery, affirmed by the author's credibility. The article appeals to the
reader's pathos and logos by alluding to blacks' factual evidence and tribulations as depicted in
the text.

Works Cited

Collins, Janelle. "Passage to slavery, passage to freedom: Olaudah Equiano and the sea." The
Midwest Quarterly 47.3 (2006): 209.