Lend a helping hand of Freedom, Forgiveness, and Fertility

While "Benito Cereno" comes from and reflects on the debates and conflicts of the 1850s, it stretches out from that history to offer itself as a meditation on the problematics of a certain kind of revolutionary situation, on American history (by which I mean the history of the Americas and therefore necessarily the history of Europe and Africa)" (Swann 321).

While reading "Benito Cereno," I never thought about relating it to history and much it makes sense.

Did you think that Captain Delano's character was quite interesting in the text? Why did he trust in Captain Cereno? Would you?

As a reader, Melville is using history as a basis for showing how people should conform within society. This approach holds true throughout society and is important to consider when relating to criticism.

When using intertextual criticism, a reader can compare this text to any text that has wars or debates that involve ships or slaves. Were previous societies trustworthy and that is why Captain Delano had so much faith in Cereno?

Melville seems to be trying to use Captain Delano as a figure that society should be instead of never trusting anyone. Can we "really" trust anyone in today's society? Well it depends, right?

Many World Wars within the United States or in foreign countries have been based on debates and disputes between people. This may be because of religious laws, political force, or simply a dispute between races. Melville is presenting readers with a text that allows unity between people that do not know each other. When using my critical lense to evaluate this text, I begin to question whether Delano was used as a distraction or as an illustration of how society should begin to act.

It is interesting that you do not see this type of "lending a hand" in "The Yellow Wallpaper" or in "Ode on a Grecian Urn." This type of text is providing a view of how society will conform to changes or how it will be in the future. Well, lets look at society now. Do many people lend out a helping hand? I would say that usually people do because it is the "right" thing to do.

It is also mind-boggling when you place emphasize upon a particular character. Take Captain Delano, for example, and put Captain Cereno in his place. Would the trust still be there? Would there be slaves?

My overall critical view is that history, as we usually relate to, has a way of containing teachable moments or viewpoints that readers need to consider. I did not think of historical criticism while reading "Benito Cereno," but now I have another lens to evaluate the text.

I will leave you with an online posting that relates "Benito Cereno" to history and uses White, an author, as a comparing point.

Click here for the course web page devoted to Swann.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on March 13, 2009 6:44 PM.

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