Twelve Years a Slave (2013 film)

Twelve Years a Slave (2013 film) Literary Elements


Steve McQueen

Leading Actors/Actresses

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson






Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress (Nyong'o)

Date of Release

November 8, 2013


Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas

Setting and Context

Saratoga, New York and Louisiana plantations, 1841-1853

Narrator and Point of View

The point of view is that of Solomon Northup's, but there is no narrator.

Tone and Mood

Dramatic, disturbing, moving, serious, raw.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Solomon. Antagonist: Epps and the other white slavers.

Major Conflict

Solomon Northup, a free black man, is deceived and sold into slavery in 1841, sent to Louisiana to work under horrible conditions on the plantation of a particularly evil plantation master, Edwin Epps.


The climax occurs when Solomon is released from slavery and brought away from Epps' plantation.


Brown and Hamilton intently watching Solomon drink at dinner in Washington foreshadows the fact that they have ulterior motives and that they are drugging him.


Solomon's first words upon being reunited with his family, apologizing for his appearance and calling the past 12 years of living as a slave a "difficult time" is an example of understatement.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques


Allusions to the history of slavery and the Bible.


Solomon endangers his life even more by telling people that he is a free man and that he is educated. It does not benefit him to advocate for his own autonomy and intellect.