Critical Essays On Phillis Wheatley

Critical Essays On Phillis Wheatley-83
In the poem “On the Death of General Wooster,” included in a letter to Wooster’s widow, Mary, on July 15, 1778, Wheatley exclaims, “But how, presumptuous shall we hope to find/Divine acceptance with th’Almighty mind—/While yet (O deed ungenerous!) they disgrace/And hold in bondage Afric’s blameless race?Phillis returned to Boston shortly before her book was published.

In the poem “On the Death of General Wooster,” included in a letter to Wooster’s widow, Mary, on July 15, 1778, Wheatley exclaims, “But how, presumptuous shall we hope to find/Divine acceptance with th’Almighty mind—/While yet (O deed ungenerous!) they disgrace/And hold in bondage Afric’s blameless race?Phillis returned to Boston shortly before her book was published.

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Notwithstanding the prejudices against her race, social status, gender, and age, Wheatley became the first published woman of African descent in 1767.

She gained international recognition with her funeral elegy on the death of the evangelist George Whitefield, addressed to his English patron, the Countess of Huntingdon, and published in Boston and London in 1770.

Her six-week stay in London enabled her to establish a network of associations that included many of the militarily, politically, religiously, and socially most important people in North America and Britain.

She arrived in England a year after a court decision declared that slave owners could not legally compel their slaves to return to the colonies.

Wheatley was the first person of African descent to publish a book, and consequently the first international celebrity of African descent.

She also founded the literary tradition of English-speaking authors of African descent.For example, in “To the University of Cambridge, in New-England,” first composed when she was about fifteen years old, Wheatley speaks as a teacher to students, or a minister to his flock, in addressing the young men of what was to become Harvard University, many of whom were being trained there to become ministers themselves.Several of Wheatley’s poems demonstrate a nuanced treatment of slavery unrecognized by some of her critics.Phillis married John Peters, a free black, on Thanksgiving Day, 1778, eight months after John Wheatley died.Although the marriage of Phillis and John Peters was initially prosperous, they soon fell victim to the general economic depression that followed the war.” The hopes that Phillis Wheatley brought home with her from England were soon frustrated.She did not live to see the enfranchisement of her fellow people of African descent. Susanna Wheatley died within months of Phillis’s return from London.The African-American poet Phillis Wheatley has achieved iconic status in American culture.A 174-word letter from her to a fellow servant of African descent in 1776 sold at an auction in 2005 for 3,000—well over double what it had been expected to fetch, and the highest price ever paid for a letter by a woman of African descent.Peters, who at various times in his life advertised himself as a lawyer, physician, and gentleman, was repeatedly jailed for debt.He was probably in prison when Phillis died on 5 December 1784, when she was about thirty-one years old.

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