illustrated portrait of main character Linda Brent

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by Harriet Jacobs
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Why does Mrs. Flint not help protect Harriet Jacobs from the unwanted sexual advances of Dr. Flint in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl?

Mrs. Flint chooses to take out her hurt and frustration on Linda rather than confront Dr. Flint due to the following reasons: (1) she's young and insecure, so feels she doesn't have the power or authority to challenge Dr. Flint; (2) as a much younger woman, Mrs. Flint is very much in thrall to her husband, who uses the age gap between them—as well as the norms and values of society—to lord this age gap over her, keeping her in a position of subordination; (3) very much under the thumb of her husband, Mrs. Flint doesn't feel able to do anything about his predatory behavior; (4) Mrs.

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Mrs. Flint doesn't help protect Harriet Jacobs from the unwanted sexual advances of Dr. Flint because Mrs. Flint is young and insecure, and thus she doesn't feel able to challenge Dr. Flint's predatory behavior.

There's a large age gap between Mrs. Flint and her husband. As a much younger woman, Mrs. Flint is very much in thrall to her husband, who exploits the age gap between them—as well as the norms and values of society—to lord this age gap over her, keeping her in a position of subordination.

Very much under the thumb of her husband, Mrs. Flint doesn't feel able to do anything about his predatory behavior. As such, she takes out her hurt and frustration on Linda—the pseudonym of Harriet Jacobs—venting all her pent-up rage upon her.

Mrs. Flint also appears to have internalized the sexist norm of the time which stated that, in the case of a husband's philandering, it was the woman with whom he was having an affair who was at fault. That being the case, Mrs. Flint chooses to blame Linda for her husband's predatory behavior rather than blame Dr. Flint, who bears the sole responsibility for his actions.

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