During slavery time and even before there was an enormous amount of people who were treated cruel and unfairly. Not only were the slaves unsatisfied with undeserved treatment but also immigrants who, around this time, were working in extremely poor conditions. Although very upset and displeased with these unjust actions these people didn’t tolerate it for long. Sojourner Truth, a woman who escaped from her master was one of many who fought back. After her getaway, she encountered new masters who were willing to help her gain freedom from slavery. During her time with the Van Wagenens, Isabella (Sojourner Truth) had a life-changing religious experience — becoming “overwhelmed with the greatness of the Divine presence” and inspired to preach. She quickly became known as a remarkable preacher whose influence “was miraculous.” She spoke about anti-slavery and women’s rights, often giving personal testimony about her experiences as a slave.
After she was freed in 1854, at the Ohio Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, she gave her most famous speech — with the legendary phrase, “Aint I A Woman?” She used this speech not only as a way to bring women together but to lift them up. She is saying that we as African-American women can do just as much as a man and deserves as much as a white woman. She preaches to the woman all over the world but she does it through her own life experience.
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain’t I a woman? … I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me — and ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well — and ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me — and ain’t I woman?
Truth utilizes repetition throughout this piece to emphasize inequality. She also poses a rhetorical question after each explained situation informing people that this is something that is obviously not right and that there should be something done about it.
During the same time though in a much higher class, Charolotte Perkins- Gilman was also a woman who made use of language as a way to reach out to people for change. Gillman, a young wife ill with neurasthenia, wrote a book entitled The Yellow Wallpaper. This short story was originally a diary that her husband forbid her to have. In addition to the exhausting secret, Gilman is stuck in a room filled with gruesome yellow wallpaper of which she hates. In this story she documents her days going through her disease with the simple treatment of the “rest cure” during the late 1800s. The rest cure was the treatment that was given to Gilman by both her Doctor and husband. This consisted of staying in bed and eliminating all work from her schedule, which added to her illness.
John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage…
John is a physician, and — perhaps (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.
You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?
If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — what is one to do?…
So I take phosphates or phospites — whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again.
Personally, I disagree with their ideas…But what is one to do?
I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal
— having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.
Gilman simply writes down her thoughts and/or feelings in her diary as they enter her mind. She uses the rhetorical device asyndeton to show how rapid these thoughts are forming in her head because of the disease. I believe this was a cry out for attention not for herself but for others in the same predicament as her. In a letter informing people why she wrote the book she said, “I wrote The Yellow Paper, with its establishments and additions to carry out the ideal and sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad.”
Both Sojourner Truth and Charolette Perkins- Gilman used different forms of language as a way to organize for change. Would you agree that both forms were affective to organize for progress?