A Theme Of Equality In Phillis Wheatley’s On Being Brought From Africa To America

Wheatley opens her eight line block form poem by saying “‘Twas merci brought me out of my Pagan land.'” This means that God Almighty’s compassion brought her from Africa. Her imagery is based on her experience as an African slave. When she was a young girl, her skin color was the same as Cain’s. The poem is a combination of light, dark and gratitude. It’s a testament to the fact that she was introduced to Christianity. Line 2 mentions that her “benighted spirit” is saved by God from sin and evil. This means there is God who is watching over and protecting her in her darkness. If God is not known as a personal salvation, the darkness is not eternal.

America is compared with Africa, the land that is non-pagan and free. It can erase the darkness. Africa, Wheatley’s pagan world, is where people live in houses made from mud. Hospitals are far and away. And children have to travel long distances just to get water. In Africa, food costs a lot if your needs aren’t met. For example, if you’re not a teacher or farmer. HIV/AIDS happens because sex becomes a way to pass time when electricity is not available or there are no other entertainment options. She doesn’t speak much of her journey from Africa but she does see it as an important part of her life. Wheatley uses many different images to represent physical and mental darkness in her poem “On being brought from Africa into America”. In Africa, or the pagan land that she describes, her soul does not become cleansed. Wheatley’s soul is not cleansed when she is in Africa, or pagan land as she refers to.

Wheatley is a poet who breaks down barriers by learning to read and to write. Wheatley’s “American Dream” is to come to America, so writing for her is a way to fulfill that dream and not feel like a slave. Bystanders will notice that “. . . Negros black as Cain”, when Cain’s name is brought up, God protects him just as he does the dark of the slavers that pretend to not know the Lord. They are also protected despite their sins. It is true that the destruction of slavery helps her to restore her faith after being removed from Africa by someone else.

The speaker has never spoken ill of slavery. She realizes she’s there at the perfect time and place for a good reason. Phillis is hoping for redemption through the poem. America, she believes, will bring her salvation but as with everything in life, there can be obstacles. Blacks show a similar behavior to Cain the first Christian murderer who killed Abel. The statement. . . Wheatley’s claim that blacks can be refined the same as other races, and then join them on the angelic railway, impacts our decision. The angelic train represents Heaven, where all believers will be gathered once they treat each other equally as Christians. This is like supporting the best team in football and hoping that everyone will prosper. The speaker does not just ask for equality; he also tells the listeners that God welcomes everyone.

It is negative to say that “Some look down on our sables race” and call slaves black. The expression “Their color is diabolic” means that they are covered in wickedness. This event is accompanied by racism, with humans being called diabolic dice or remaining around to benefit the other race. Considering God’s race creation evil is antichristian. Phillis is a shining example of a change in the way Christians treat one another according to God’s Word. The word darkness is used to suggest the idea of evil, or black people without any spiritual understanding.

This address, which focuses on religion, gratitude, & understanding, reveals the essential loyalty of Negroes to power. If whites do not expect blacks be anti-white then oppression and degrading of people black like Cain must stop. The speaker isn’t resentful, even though she doesn’t mention forgiveness. As society wishes to eradicate the black race from the world, “On being brought from Africa into America” makes the reader feel what a slave would have felt, as they leave behind everything and begin a new life.

Imagine being separated by family members and friends. Wheatley has lived in isolation for so many years that she’s numb about what will happen to her. She’s relieved with praises, blessings, and comforting words. Phillis Wheatley, who is not very familiar with Christianity, did not doubt God’s intentions when she left Africa. She realized, however, that God had always been by her side, even though she hadn’t seen him. Her continued faith allowed her to stay strong and adaptable to new environments.

In the end, it is most important that someone’s color does not hinder them from living their lives. When life hands you lemons to make lemonade, as the well-known quote says, someone will be in an even worse situation than expected. Wheatley, and other Africans brought to America as slaves, suffers from excessive pain and labor. She still believes everyone can come together. Wheatley is confident and strong in her own abilities, despite all the hardships and struggles. Phillis believes everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.


Original: Furthermore

Paraphrased: In addition

Wheatley, Phillis. “On Becoming Brought to America from Africa.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Robert S. Levine. 422.


  • camdynelliott

    Camdyn Elliott is a 35-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. She has been writing about education for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Camdyn is the founder of the education blog Education Week, and she is also the author of the book "How to Teach Like a Pro: A Guide to Effective Teaching Methods for College and Career Students."

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