Equiano and Style

Olaudah Equiano is an individual who seeks to appeal to the sentiments of his readers. He uses first person narration, and discusses the events that have happened within his life, as if he were recalling the past life in which Equiano lived before becoming enslaved. His story and the details of the plot are very vivid and descriptive.
It is first important to discuss the method Equiano uses in order to narrate his narrative. He tells the story as if he is remembering the past. He first starts his novel by recounting life in Guinea, West Africa before becoming enslaved and traveling to the West Indies. He describes his life before coming to the West Indies and enslavement, as very simple, and it is inferred that Equiano was unaware or unfamiliar with the world outside his community. Even the names and events in the story in which the narrator describes provide credibility. In understanding Equiano’s style, it is important to note the literary techniques in which Ian Watts discusses that are significant to the rise of the novel. For example, Ian Watts’s biggest discussion is on style, and the ways in which the authors of novels discuss topics, whose purpose is to provide a “realistic affect. “For example, Watts notes, “The novel’s plot is also distinguished from most previous fiction by its use of past experience as the cause of present action: a causal connection operating through time replaces the reliance of earlier narratives and disguises and coincident, and this tends to give the novel a much more cohesive structure” (22). This novel is definitely told in time sequenced method, from the beginning before the main character was enslaved to the time he was placed in captivity.
The narrator’s use of word choice and diction is important. The narrator often draws on the sympathy of his readers by appealing to their Christian values. For example, within the beginning of the novel, Equiano states,
“I believe it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity; nor is this the only disadvantage under which they labour; it is also their misfortune, that whatever is uncommon is rarely, if ever, believed; and what is obvious we are apt to turn from with disgust, and to charge the writer with impertinence. People generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read or remembered which abound in great or striking events; those, in short, which in a high degree excite either admiration or pity: all others they consign to contempt and oblivion. It is, therefore, I confess, not a little hazardous, in a private and obscure individual, and a stranger too, thus to solicit the indulgent attention of the public; especially when I own I offer here the history of neither saint, a hero, nor a tyrant…I regard myself as a particular favourite of Heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of Providence in every occurrence of my life…” (31).
Hence, the author seeks to gain credibility among his readers.
The author uses powerful diction to discuss the events within his life. For example, when discussing his life in Guinea, he uses terms such as “admiration,” “pity,” “oblivion” to describe the life he lived before becoming enslaved (31). The author even states, “obscure individual” (31). These terms denote unfamiliarity with the customs outside his neighboring community. When the author describes his being taken captive. He uses terms such as “unknown,” “terror,” “horror,” “astonishment,” “horrible,” when he describes when he was placed on a ship after being enslaved (55). These terms definitely paint a mental picture for readers.
In my opinion, Equiano’s style is worth noting. His use of narration and the diction in which he uses to recount his experiences, definitely create sympathy for readers.

Wollstonecraft and Style

Mary Wollstonecraft’s style in Maria, The Wrongs of Woman, is interesting, as seen in the diction and sentence structure. The language is very formal, and it is as if the author is making a declaration to the audience about the particular situation and circumstances in which individuals of her gender have to undergo. It is interesting how the author discusses the difficulties that certain individuals have to undergo. It is similar to how Watts discusses novel writers. Ian Watts is concerned about the style and how writers describe the circumstances, of the form in which a novel occurs. Watts notes the ways in which novel writers describe the circumstances in which their characters undergo, is enough to shed light to readers about the struggles of the characters. For example, Watts notes, “Here, however, we are concerned with a much more limited conception with the extent to which the analogy with philosophical realism helps to isolate and define the distinctive narrative mode of the novel. This, is has been suggested, is the sum of literary techniques whereby the novel’s imitation of human life follows the procedure adopted by philosophical realism in its attempt to ascertain and report the truth” (31). Hence, it is the ways in which novelists describe situations, or the literary techniques that the writers apply which brings the novel to life, or perhaps appears as if the situations are real. Therefore, style is important. Thus, is the way Wollstonecraft describes her characters experiences that is the reason we come to sympathize with her characters. Also, Watts states the importance of the character’s names. For example, he adds “Characters in previous forms of literature, of course, were usually given proper names; but the kind of names actually used showed that the author was not trying to establish his characters as completely individualized entities. The precepts of classical and renaissance criticism agreed with the practice of their literature in preferring either historical names or type names. In either case, the names set the characters in the context of a larger body of expectations primarily formed from the past literature, rather than from the context of contemporary life.” (18-19).
In the introduction, Moira Ferguson recognizes Wollstonecraft as having a “pivotal position in the history of humanist thought (9). She notes that Ferguson notes that individual of her gender in England in the eighteenth century, were denied or were placed in the situation were they had “No money was theirs by right…if they were heiress…and they married, their money automatically transformed to their husbands” (10). Ferguson even notes, “They were denied child custody,” and these individuals were forbidden to separate from their husbands unless extreme circumstances occurred (10). Ferguson also notes that Maria’s house servant, Jemima is an example of how “women from the lowest social class fared even worse” (10). She notes, “though the novel is incomplete, it is clearly articulated and offers a graphic picture of the wrongs done to women” (10). Ferguson adds, “In Maria she depicts in a fictional setting how the denial of all civil and political rights keeps every class of women from true fulfillment in their day-to-day existence” (10).
The diction or word choice that Wollstonecraft uses is interesting. She uses terms such as, “abodes of horror,” “mansion of despair,” and “scattered thoughts” (23). The sentence structure is complex as well, for example, the author writes, “Abodes of horror have frequently been described…conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind. But, formed of such stuff as dreams are made of, what were they to the mansion of despair, in one corner of which Maria sat, endeavoring to recall her scattered thoughts” (23). The diction, word choice, and the sentence structure are interesting. All these factors depict the complex situation in which Maria finds herself with “scattered thoughts” as fi she is pondering over some distressing thought.
Therefore, I agree with Watts that form plays a significant role in shaping a novel, in which case we are allowed to see through the powerful use of word choice the distressing situation of the characters in the novel