‘12 Years a Slave’ is an adaption of the memoir by Solomon Northup. Directed by Steve McQueen it gives a brutally honest insight into slavery in the time before The Civil War.
Solomon Northup was an African-American from upstate New York who born a free man. He grew up with an education and had a career as a violinist. He was abducted from Washington and sold into slavery where he was forced to endure physical and emotional torture for the next twelve years.
Solomon Northup’s story shows the many nightmares African-Americans had to endure with nobody coming to their aid for all those years. The physical and mental torture, the anguish of being separated from loved ones, the rape of your mind and body. These are just a few of the atrocities that happened on a day-to-day basis for these human beings and that still go on today in the slave trade around the world.
Eliza is a character that really shows the lack of sympathy African-Americans were shown in the time of slavery. After being ripped apart from her children Mrs Ford declares to Eliza “Something to eat and some rest; your children will soon enough be forgotten.” As if she was little more than an animal who has no lasting love for her children. When it shows that her grief for losing her children is unending the Fords send her back like some faulty goods.
Patsey’s character hits home the terror female slaves had to endure. The never ending sexual torture by Mr Epps and the hatred afforded to her because of this from Mrs Epps. Mrs Epps never takes into consideration that Mr Epps affections towards her were unreciprocated but instead considers Patsey to be an instigator in it. This shows how many slave owners wives considered the female slaves in these times.
While Solomon Northup’s story gets resolved there are many that have an open ending. Does Patsey ever escape her torturous life with the Epps? Does Eliza ever see her children again? These are both unlikely to happen but there is always hope. As this is what Solomon’s story gives in the end. There is hope to become free. After all, what were the chances of Solomon ever finding his freedom again?