Free How Marilyn Nelson’s Use of Poetry in The Freedom Business Essay Sample

Explain how Marilyn Nelson’s use of poetry in The Freedom Business to interpret history changes Venture Smith’s original story, and changes our perception of history itself

The poems of Marilyn Nelson in The Freedom Business are opposite to the real-life adventures of Venture Smith. The latter was the first person in America who documented his capture when he was a six-year-old prince from Africa, his life as an American slave, and his triumph of conquering slavery. It can be said that the narratives of Venture Smith are less emotionally expressive. Hence, historians and the general audience alike may have visualized his difficult yet amazing life as a slave and a free man. However, they did not capture the essence of his emotions as a human being who was born as a prince in his country but was sold into slavery.

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Before the appearance of the Marilyn Nelson’s poems, the only method of understanding Venture Smith had been through his dictated narrative. For example, the next paragraph reveals the encounter of Smith and his master’s son: He then broke out into a great rage, snatched a pitchfork and went to lay me over the head therewith; but I as soon got another and defended myself with it, or otherwise be might have murdered me in his outrage. In Nelson’s words, she translated it to: He snatched a pitchfork. I weighed fight against faith, for one moment, then snatched the other one. We faced off like devils going about their business, he big with arrogance, claiming authority.

It is restricted in terms of details, emotions and inner voice; thus, the visualization of Smith is limited to only what his descriptive documents reveal. While it is true that he is a man of character, as disclosed by his lofty goals and perception of people and things according to their value, no one can properly understand his actual feelings. Moreover, according to the author herself, there is no way of establishing the authentic emotions of Venture Smith because his narratives lack their description. The poems of Marilyn Nelson are crafted in a manner that gives life to the man’s experiences, an approximation of his actual feelings.

As the emotionally turbulent poems of Marilyn Nelson are different from the impersonal narrative of Venture Smith, history is revealed in a different light. Rather than a chronicle of events, the audience is captured into the actual scenario, as if they see Venture before their very own eyes. They are able to understand who he actually is. With the help of Marilyn Nelson’s poems, history feels more real than it is. Her poems that visualize the experiences of Smith make the readers understand and interpret history on a different level. While historians communicate their relevant findings to the readers through a traditional chronological report, Nelson utilizes her poems to capture what most of these exhaustingly descriptive historical documents do not: emotional backdrop of struggles, happiness, hardships, ambitions, loss, guilt, depression, success, etc. Perhaps, for the first time, poems that are reckoned as historical fiction feel more real than the non-fiction narrative versions. The integration of emotional appeal into the descriptive account of Venture Smith has helped the audience to understand history better through the eyes of an African prince turned slave who emerged later as a respectable citizen in Connecticut.

With the help of the poems under consideration, the life of Venture Smith has become a tool for people to comprehend the multifaceted racial beginnings of America. In line with this, the story of one person who conquered slavery connects with the broader American stories whose sources are also the victims of the country’s struggle to put into practice national ideals. As a consequence, the audience has become more empathetic to the slaves and more vigilant to the possible remnants of history. As people become more aware of Venture Smith’s emotions as illustrated by a series of poems, they also become more abreast of their roots, their ancestors’ past ideals, and their history embedded with prejudice, ungratefulness and self-importance.

One may have read countless stories describing slavery in America in the past, but The Freedom Business is the best in depicting the troubles of America in the 18th century using a mental time machine. As one imagines the feelings of loss, hope, hurt and content of Venture Smith, his/her insights concerning the historical perspective widen. While the US choose to be ignorant of the issue of equal rights in the past, several people like Venture Smith who were victims of oppression for a long period of time decided to fight against the racial discrimination. He won in the end, and people were there to celebrate it with him through the poetry of Marilyn Nelson.

Compare two of the different people in Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City. How were the ways they achieved their goals different and/or the same?

Using the book Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City, it can be inferred that Bridgeport is a testament to the American dream. Phineas Taylor Barnum and Charles Sherwood Stratton both achieved success in the end. However, the methods which the two personas used to fulfill their ambitions were different.

Charles Stratton, well-known for his moniker General Tom Thumb, demonstrates that any honest boy can make it to respectability despite the physical disfigurement. Anyone reach the American dream with a great deal of determination and a bit of luck. The way General Tom Thumb rises from rags to riches also shows that the whole concept of American dream is a freak event for people who are not normal. Charles left Bridgeport as a poor midget with the aim to return to the city being successful through appearing on circus shows, making his audience laugh, and imitating other people. Despite the circus environment General Tom Thumb grew up in, he remained a diligent and honest person. His strong sense of humor was what captured the heart of the audience. It was the reason why even people of middle-class backgrounds were willing to pay for General Tom Thumb’s performances. His natural disposition to witticism made him a favorite person of famous people such as Queen Victoria and President Abraham Lincoln. The existence of General Tom Thumb became the reason for Americans to laugh and be merry. In those times, America was in constant cliffhanger due to unstable internal politics and threats of war. Hence, the performances of the dwarf circus character dissipated the nation’s worries at least for a moment. He made fortune making people laugh and staying honest.

Another figure in the book whose journey to the American dream is as significant as General Tom Thumb’s is Phineas Taylor Barnum more commonly known as P. T. Barnum. He was the mastermind behind the carnival shows, the promoter of General Tom Thumb and other performers. Like Stratton, he became rich and successful; however, he achieved this at the expense of his performers. He accumulated wealth through elaborate plans carefully and was described by the author as “…a mastermind at urban planning” (p. 130). For example, Barnum falsified information about General Tom Thumb to make him more appealing and comical to the general public. He is the most reliable representation of the American dream in the spirit of capitalism because he accumulated his riches by investing into a business. However, unlike other capitalists in the country, his business was showmanship staging humiliating spectacle of dwarfs and other circus performers.

The method through which Barnum became successful relates to the public approval of deceit and lies. Moreover, it exploits the weaknesses of others without utmost consideration in exchange for monetary gains. With the objective of nailing his American dream, Barnum championed in deceiving both ordinary citizens and noblemen. He mastered the art of having contrasting personalities. He was shrew yet charitable, concerned yet exploitative. He may have had an excellent instinct for business, and his public relations skills were exemplary, but the fact remains that he is one of the pioneering representations of an American con artist. Through his circus business, Barnum started the culture of shaping public beliefs and put forward these artificial figures into the public scrutiny. In short, P. T. Barnum was a scam artist by profession, and his hoax helped him reach his American dream.

Both characters have accomplished their goals. However, the ways they used were completely opposite. General Tom Thumb made people laugh at the expense of his sheer witticism, while P. T. Barnum did the same exploiting other people’s deformities and through deceit.

Take one of the many events in Connecticut History we’ve talked about and explain what it shows about the character of the people and/or the specific geography of the land itself.

In the book Homegrown Terror: Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London, the greatest betrayal of an American to his hometown is revealed. Benedict Arnold, along with more than 1,500 British soldiers literally and figuratively burned the town New London. Not only business establishments were set on fire, houses of New London residents were torched, too, including the friends and acquaintances of Benedict Arnold. To borrow a text in the book, “But the soldiers under Arnold did not spare the houses of their supporters, knowing that this would only bring down more severe revenge from the Revolutionaries.”. This explains in detail that no one is spared from the violence and torture brought about by the Arnold and his British comrades. To discuss of the character of the people involved in the incident is to dissect their direct and indirect participation in the brutal historical event. Benedict Arnold was initially a hero, having helped captured Fort Ticonderoga. However, lack of proper acknowledgment from higher ranking officials and comrades, compounded with his unnecessary extravagance and charges of corruption, Arnold ultimately lost his faith in Connecticut and its people. As Lehman puts it, the savage act of torching New London into flames was more than an act of wickedness. Arnold was a selfish and pretentious person afflicted with a serious case of vanity. He felt humiliated when he was not shown extravagant accolade for his contribution to the revolution. Arnold represented an extreme character of a person who needed to be constantly shown attention and compliments, and when he did not get such, New London was placed under flames and his friends suffered. Moreover, the evolution of a betrayal from an abstract idea to a full reality took place in New London for the entire community to see. The people themselves were not exactly free of faults. New London, as a town, was committed to illegal exportation of horses, spices and other goods. Nathaniel Shaw, a prominent businessman, got wealthy because of privateering, which means seizing British adjunct ships and its contents including prisoners. The seaside geography of New London had allowed wartime economics and world trade to prosper during the Revolutionary War. Consequently, the harbor became the base of military naval operations at the time when America and England were disputing for properties. Therefore, England’s support of Arnold’s plan of treachery was because of the political stance the country would gain from destroying a premier American military base. So, another possibility could be, even if Arnold did not pursue the attack on New London, England would still make a way to place the town into flames because of its geography.

The residents of New London were an amalgam of extreme characters. Arnold Benedict was a product of broken loyalty and sheer resentment. Nathaniel Shaw seized every opportunity to increase his accumulation of wealth. The rest of the people are completely okay with the day to day operations of New London, including the downgrade of Arnold. In retrospect, New London was vulnerable to attacks because of the town’s important role in American militia.


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