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Evaluation of “Middle Passage”Robert Hayden’s “Middle Passage” is a popular poem well known for its content regarding triangular slave trade in the early fifteenth century and the developmental change of Africa-Americans as well as the nation. It an interesting poetry work that one can read again and again as it tells about the reality of what slave passed through and transitory stage of development of the Africa-Americans and the nation. In this essay, evaluation of the will be carried out regarding its literary analysis in consideration of the themes and figurative language used as well as its significant impact to the society. As in most poetry work, Hayden has made proper use of figurative language to bring up the poem, but the act of developing it as a tool to bring liberation makes it unique among many other works.
Hayden has effectively used figurative language to bring out his mind regarding slavery and the liberation of black people. Among the figurate devices used include symbolism and imagery. It is through imagery that the reader gets to understand the major voices used in the poem. The voices in first section are for a court statement and that of the sailor dairy. The sailor postulates nervousness and fear as well how people in captivity committed suicide to avoid slavery. “Misfortune follows in our wake like sharks”. The voice of the court composition contradict the public view about enslavement (Gale, page 27). The historical names and voices are used symbolically to bring out the poems meaning. “Jesus, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy”.
Themes clearly tell the purpose of the poem which is to record to change process and the absurdity of perpetuity among all humans. It shows the ruthless nature of the exploiters as well as illustrating the middle section of the evolvement of human consciousness, “Shuttles in the rocking loom of history”. Furthermore, the desire of freedom is significant theme in the poem. It appears symbolically in the image of Cinquez and invisible voice. It is through this theme that the poet shows the struggle for life that slaves underwent in the transition towards the new developed world where many ended up dying.
Hayden’s work is significant to the society especially in comparing the development and liberty gained by the nation now and there before during the slavery era. Gain of liberation and enslavement of the slaves are among the essential changes that signifies America’s growth according to the author. Humanity was a result of middle stage as the people moved toward social, psychological and physical salvation (Lambert, page 11).
As illustrated above, “Middle Passage” has been appropriately developed and the author has properly applied literary devices to bring out the plot of the poem. The efficient use of figurative language and development of themes attract reader’s attention towards the poem. Hayden’s work is not only significant to the present generation but also future one as it educative and greatly enhances liberation of the nation. Low production and economic degradation is a result of fear, anxiety and uncertainty in consideration of the enslavement case in the poem.
Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Robert Hayden’s” Runagate Runagate”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.
Lambert, Raphaël. “The Slave Trade as Memory and History: James A. Emanuel’s” The Middle Passage Blues” and Robert Hayden’s” Middle Passage”.” African American Review 47.2 (2014): 327-338.