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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by Harriet Jacobs
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How cruel is Mrs. Flint in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl? Give some examples from the book.

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Harriet Jacobs describes Mrs. Flint as being exceptionally cruel. While Dr. Flint is described as a thoroughly selfish and brutal person, without the slightest compassion for his slaves or concern for their welfare, Mrs. Flint is more actively spiteful. If her dinner was not served exactly on time, she would...

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Harriet Jacobs describes Mrs. Flint as being exceptionally cruel. While Dr. Flint is described as a thoroughly selfish and brutal person, without the slightest compassion for his slaves or concern for their welfare, Mrs. Flint is more actively spiteful. If her dinner was not served exactly on time, she would spit in all the cooking pots. Jacobs says,

She did this to prevent the cook and her children from eking out their meagre fare with the remains of the gravy and other scrapings.

Mrs. Flint is a jealous wife. This is not unreasonable, since Dr. Flint gives her plenty of reason for jealousy, but instead of venting her anger on him, she directs it towards his innocent victims. When a slave girl is dying "soon after the birth of a child nearly white," Mrs. Flint stands by and mocks her agonies, telling the girl how glad she is to see her suffer. The mother of the dying girl expresses relief that the baby is dead and that her daughter's suffering will also soon be over, since they will be in heaven. Mrs. Flint tells her that neither mother nor child will ever get to heaven: "There is no such place for the like of her and her bastard."

Mrs. Flint is weak in some respects. Jacobs says she is "totally deficient in energy." However, her malice is so strong that she will happily witness the torments of others and watches slaves being whipped until "the blood trickled from every stroke of the lash."

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