Phillis Wheatley: Poems

Phillis Wheatley: A Concealed Voice Against Slavery

Religion, specifically Christianity, gives Phillis Wheatley an avenue with which to connect and influence her readers. Wheatley appears to embrace Christianity without offering criticism or highlighting hypocrisies. However, a deeper reading of her poetry suggests that she uses her newfound religion to deliver a message on the injustices of slavery. Within “On Being Brought from Africa to America”, Phillis Wheatley strives to utilize Christianity with an emphasis on redemption, so that there is a hidden implication of equality and the notion that all slaves are capable of being saved.

The first four lines of Wheatley’s poem, “On Being Brought from Africa to America”, confirm the ideals of Christianity:

’Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there’s a God, that there’s a Savior too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Within these lines, she admits that she was once a pagan, but God removed her of this sin and lead her to the path of redemption. Instead of beginning with a condemnation of slavery she calls it “mercy brought me from my Pagan land” (Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America”, line 1). Further she implies that her finding of a God and savior has allowed...

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