Our Nig: Or, Sketches From the Life of a Free Black

Our Nig: A Fusion of Romantic and Realistic Literary Technique

Harriet Wilson's sentimental narrative, Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, draws on two specific literary areas to disclose the tale of a young, mistreated Mulatto heroine, encumbered by an excessive amount of injustice, hostility, and inhumane treatment as well as circumstance. The concept of romanticism, appealing to the passionate, the verbose, that which is discredited as accurate, rampages through the novel in didactic passages and internal thoughts. Simultaneously, Wilson utilizes succinct descriptions of setting and action which correspond with the themes of realism, detailing in narrative the everyday actions and events of the heroine. Together, the two fuse to create Our Nig, where the hypocrisy of liberation and the abhorrent reality of human action perspire from the page.

Wilson opens the novel with an account of the heroine Frado's mother: a forceful storytelling, didactic and woeful. In traditional romantic spirit, Wilson preaches, "Alas, how fearful are we to be first in extending a helping hand to those who stagger in the mires of infamy; to speak the first words of hope and warning to those emerging into the sunlight of morality!" (Wilson 7). The diction here is almost...

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