Mary's Story

Themes In The Text

Mary uses a lot of different literary devices as well as themes in the text to help future describe to readers what her life was like. This page will highlight diction, imagery and slaves desire to be free, these aspects are used a lot throughout the text.


Diction is described as word choice, Prince uses 3 words many times throughout this text that evoke strong emotions.  The three words that evoke emotion is the word lick, the word Mr. or master and the word sell. The word lick in the context of this text can be described as a force full strike to the body of some kind. “ -Lick -they were never secure one moment from a blow, and their lives were passed in continual fear.” (Prince 7) The emotion that is associated with the word lick is strong fear and pain. Another word that provokes strong emotion is the word master; meaning the person who owns a particular slave. “My master, however, was a very harsh, selfish man; and we always dreaded his return from sea.”(Prince 1) The word Master and or Mr. are used frequently throughout the text and the emotion it provokes is one of feeling worthless and your life is not your own; your life is your masters life. The last word I feel provokes the most emotion is the word sell. In this text when Mary uses the word sell she is referring to going to auctions and being sold to different or new slave owners. This idea provokes a strong emotion of the lack of freedom and self value these slaves had and it is troubling and inhuman. “Oh Mary! My father is going to sell you all to raise money to marry that wicked woman.” (Prince 3) The idea of a human being talked about as merchandise is alarming and unsettling. 


Mary Prince has a lot of great imagery in her text but the image that stuck me the most and the one I can clearly see is the scene with Mr. D and Daniel. “He would then call for a bucket of salt, and fling upon the raw flesh till the man writhed on the ground like a worm, and screamed aloud with agony. This poor man’s wounds were never healed, and I have often seen them full of maggots, which increased his torments to and intolerable degree.” (Prince, 11) The images used in this scene allowed me to see a vivid and clear picture of the pain that Mr. D put Daniel through. The scene allowed me to interpret the violent torture slaves went through described by Mary.

Slaves desire to be free:

Slaves desire to be free goes without saying, Price shows the reader throughout the text her desire to be free. Sharpe states that The History of Mary Prince moves from ignorance to enlightenment and from slavery to freedom.”(Sharpe, “Something akin to freedom”: the case of Mary Prince) Prince expresses her desire for freedom in many scenes throughout the text. A scene where Prince expresses her desire for freedom is the scene in which she has saved 100 dollars in the hopes to buy her freedom. Following the denial of approval for Prince to buy her freedom she expressed that she “greatly wished to get her freedom” (Prince,15) This scene about buying freedom greatly shows the desire to be a freed slave. Prince makes a very strong statement advocating for slaves and their and her desire to be free in her text. “ I have been a slave- I have felt what a slave feels, and I know what a salve knows; and I would have all the good people in England to know it too, that they may break our chains, and set us free.” (Prince, 11) The advocating statement from Prince about freeing slaves directly reaches out to a specific audience when she stated “all the good people in England to know” she is seeking not only sympathy from the targeted reading group but also a sense of partnership in the fight for freedom for slaves. Prince advocates not only for her freedom but her fellow slaves the theme of freedom is prominent throughout the text.