1. Your essay response must be a minimum of 750 words (there is no maximum, but try
to avoid writing a book), and it must be in conventional essay format (contain an
introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion).
2. While you may use some of an author’s biography to make your point, keep in mind
that your discussion should include a discussion of the texts we have read in class and
not rely solely on biographical information.
3. Any paraphrases or direct quotations of material from the texts you are using must be
properly punctuated (clear use of quotation marks for direct quotations, for example)
and must contain a parenthetical citation (in MLA or APA format) noting the page
number of the material.
4. You must provide a works cited page, noting full bibliographical information for your
source material, with the submitted exam. This should be entirely your own argument,
and you are not allowed to use any secondary material in this exam (your textbook
or the text itself is your only source).
5. As much as these are your own arguments, you should minimize your use of “I” unless
6. Your submission will be graded based on the proper use of essay format (clear
paragraphs, a clear introduction, a thesis statement, etc.), the clarity of your writing
punctuation/citation of any source material, the strength of your argument, and your
ability to use examples from the assigned texts to strongly support your argument.
The authors so far this term have presented a variety of characters (or points of view) who
have some kind of privileged status or who lack privileged status. Essentially, privilege is
a superior set of rights or status as compared to other individuals. Privilege can involve
race, social class, gender, or any number of other categories and mainly concerns one group
of people who has a higher status or more access to rights and opportunities than others.
Referring to three examples from three different authors so far this term, where do we see
either examples of privilege or a lack of privilege in the readings so far this term? (Make
sure you’re focusing on a particular example of privilege and not just summarizing an
entire text.) What is the privilege that the character or author has or that the character or
author lacks? How does that possession of privilege or lack of privilege affect their life or
their opportunities? What can their experience perhaps tell us about how privilege or the
lack of privilege affects individuals today?
Professor: Sara A. Kosiba
English 2206 XTIA
February 8, 2019
It is a wish of every individual to be privileged in society. Lacking in privilege means
that a person’s rights are undermined, and they are viewed as less human. The inequality across
the world stands to be a major reason why some people are privileged and some are not. In
American society, despite efforts to promote an equal society, being white is considered a
privilege. White privilege is well-embedded in racism in the sense that it uses skin color.
Essentially, people are privileged in different ways, depending on how they position themselves
to be perceived better.
In the history of slavery, Olaudah Equiano was a privileged slave. He was able to write
and read. The history of slavery informs that Africans were not allowed to learn how to write and
read. To keep African slaves under slavery it was necessary to deny them an education. Without
access to education, it is not possible for an individual to be enlightened. If a majority of the
slaves did not know how to write and read, but Equiano was able to do so, it means that he was
privileged. Therefore, Equiano had a privilege in writing and reading. It was his literacy that
enabled him to publish a book. “In England, Equiano received a comparatively kind treatment;
he learned to read and write, and was baptized” (Equiano 74). From this quote, it is apparent that
Equiano was a privileged slave.
Preferential treatment granted to Equiano is evidence of privilege. He was sold into
slavery, but he was fortunate to befriend an American sailor. At the same time, when he was sold
to England, he received kind treatment. This is attestation that Equiano was one privileged slave.
During slavery, the notion that Africans were not human was still deep-rooted. But from the
story of this character, it is clear that he was treated properly and even had the privilege to write
a book later. Also, he settled in London and married an Englishwoman (Equiano 75). The
woman he married was white, and at such a time when slavery was the order of the day, it
intrigues to learn that a slave could marry a white woman. Equiano also had a privilege to travel
to many parts of the world to give public lectures, something that other slaves could not do.
Similarly, Swift narrates that a man was allowed to serve four women. This is a privilege
that comes with male chauvinism. “My reason is that these children are seldom the fruits of
marriage, a circumstance not so much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be
sufficient to serve four females” (Swift 316). This is a privilege to male sex. This shows that
female sex is less privileged than male sex because one alone can serve four. In other
interpretation, one may see this polygamous nature of some men in some societies. For instance,
in Muslim society, a man is allowed to marry four women, but on the contrary, a woman is not
allowed to have two or more men.
It was a privilege by Aphra Behn to be a voice of women. Women for a long time have
been undermined and viewed as second-class citizens. However, the fact that Behn was able to
give them “the right to speak their minds” (Behn 198) confirms her privilege in society. Behn
comes out as an activist who could stand firm to inspire women into greatness. Historically,
women have been underestimated and abused, but the wave of feminism has been sweeping
across the world. Women just needed a leader or someone who could motivate them to air their
grievances. It is, therefore, reasonable to argue that Behn was one privileged person to advocate
for the rights of women.
It was also a privilege for Behn to marry a German merchant. Being a merchant implies
that one has wealth and since not all people are lucky to settle down with successful businessmen
it was a privilege for Behn. Also, the fact that she was able to write and use her creativity to
motivate women to demand their rights shows that she was privileged. Despite her sexual writing
content, Behn became famous. Some so many people could wish to be famous and successful
write like Behn. The fact that some people, especially during Behn’s time, wished to be like her
implies that she was privileged. By being privileged, Behn was able to advance her life and
realize her life goals.
Nevertheless, there is a downside in all these stories. According to Puchner even after the
abolition of the slave trade, it continued (74). It was lack of privilege to the 12 million slaves
who were “chained and crowded” together en-route to North America, South America, and the
Caribbean. The chaining and crowding of the slaves affirm that they were privileged. This was
indeed dehumanization of African slaves. It can be a wish of any individual to be exposed to
such a torturous life.
The poor children Swift mentions clear show a lack of privilege. Swift says that poor
innocent babies were sacrificed, and this is because of them being under-privileged members of
the society (Swift 315). It is difficult to learn that young people could be sacrificed just because
they are not viewed as valuable. Human life is valueless and priceless; therefore, sacrificing
children is proof of a lack of sense of humanness. The criticism Behn received from her
contemporaries for promoting indecency through h her sexual content shows short of privilege in
the life of Behn. It is likely that she felt bad and unwelcome. When someone is rebuked or
criticized, they are not likely to feel privileged but feel that they are denied.
Also, Equiano was also unprivileged on account that he was a slave. The fact that he was
a slave means that he was not spared from some of the difficult times most slaves faced in their
lives. The whites believed that Equiano was like any other African, whom they had considered as
non-humans. Thus, Equiano was unprivileged before the eyes of a white man. He did not enjoy
freedom as a white person, and he was sold to several slaveholders.
In summation, one cannot be privileged in all ways. There are downside risks that even
privileged people face in society. However, Equiano, especially from the perspective of Africans
slaves, was privileged. He became literate and wrote a book that earned him money and respect.
Also, for Behn she was privileged to be an activist for women through her writing and
inspiration she extended to women. Equally, she was not privileged as a woman, because she
separated and unable to raise her home to her first wish when she got married to a German
merchant. Further, the children Swift says were children were sacrificed lacked privilege. But
children from rich families based on Swift’s narrative were privileged.
Behn, Aphra. “Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave.” The Norton Anthology World Literature, edited
by Martin Puchner, third edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012, pp. 198-246
Equiano, Olaudh. “From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus
Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.” The Norton Anthology World Literature, edited
by Martin Puchner, third edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012, pp. 73-98 (Vol.
Swift, Joathan. “A Modest Proposal” The Norton Anthology World Literature, edited by Martin
Puchner, third edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012, pp. 315-320 (Vol. D)
I'm attaching your paper with comments in the text using Microsoft Word's "Track
Changes" feature. If you have trouble accessing the comments, please let me know.
Your Equiano paragraphs are rather good. Your Swift and Behn paragraphs need some
work. Swift isn't speaking seriously to the idea of four women to one man, so your
characterization of that as showing privilege isn't as strong. It may be true if it was true or
intended to be true, but as he's simply talking about a hypothetical situation and mainly
emphasizing that idea to "increase profit" as that's what he thinks people are more
concerned about. You actually make a stronger point later in the paper when you talk
about the lack of privilege for children implied by that piece. That would make a better
paragraph earlier, if you developed that more.
Your Behn paragraphs are problematic all around as you're basing all of your discussion
there on her biography and not on the text of Oroonoko. The assignment asks you to
discuss texts assigned in the class, and while a little of the author's biography, especially
if it applies to the text, is okay, you can't base your entire discussion on it. So, what do we
see in Oroonoko or in Behn's writing of Oroonoko that addresses privilege? There are
numerous examples you could potentially use there.
I would recommend working on those examples a bit more before submitting the
exam. Let me know if you have any questions about that or about the other comments
within the attached file.
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