What we retain from any consideration of melodramatic structures is the sense of fundamental bipolar contrast and clash. The world according to melodrama is built Polarization is both horizontal and vertical: characters represent extremes, and they undergo extremes, passing from heights to depths, or the reverse, almost instantaneously. The middle ground and the middle condition are excluded. William Lloyd Garrison, despite various nuanced arguments against slavery, constantly mined such allegories in his vilification of plantation licentiousness.
For the last years scholars have begun to pay more attention to issues of gender in their study of slavery and claim that female slaves faced additional burdens and even more challenges than some of the male slaves. Based on the first female slave narrative, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl  , this paper will investigate how gender influences the way in which bondage can be experienced differently: what specific forms of oppression do women face in slavery, or what forms of oppression do they encounter to a larger extent than men? Claiming that this gender specific oppression results in gender specific forms of resistance, I will furthermore focus on the ways of how female slaves made a stand against this oppression. Again, Jacobs's narrative will be the basis for this investigation. This paper will not discuss the relationship between Jacobs and her narrator Brent, but will consider Brent's account as autobiographical for Jacobs. The basis for the following investigation will be a brief introduction of the various ways of approaching Incidents.
In spite of the fact that liberty and equality are mentioned as basic human rights in the Declaration of Independence, the institution of slavery characterized 19th Century America. In the Southern states, slaves were owned by their masters and treated as objects which could be bought or sold. Their restricted rights made it difficult for them to fight for freedom and equality. It was not until , when the Civil Rights Act granted them full citizenship Felgar xxi.
Just as male slaves were beaten whipped, lashed, clubbed, etc. Masters and mistresses used such punishments to control and dehumanize their slaves. In essence, these slaves were brought to the level of animals; there was little regard for their anguish.