The Archetypal look at The Book of Negroes

In the “Book of Negroes” written by Lawrence Hill there are many archetypal elements present. So far I have read the first 2/3 of the book and when I look at it from an archetypal perspective, there is definitely a lot of archetypes throughout the novel. The story is about a young girl named Aminata, who is taking the role of both the “hero” and the “innocent”.  There is also many other archetypal roles brought by the people she meets.

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The first person I noticed that has archetypal features was the protagonist, Aminata. Aminata is a girl who was abducted by the ‘Toubab’s’ when she was just 11 years old. The Toubab’s also killed both of her parents and sent her to the United States of America to be a slave. Through all this, Aminata stays brave and stays determined to one day and escape and tell her story to help other people. While I am reading this Novel I noticed that Aminata is the hero archetype. Aminata  is a hero archetype because even through all the negative things she goes through, she stays courageous and positive so that one day she can help girls who might face the problems she had to face.  Later on when she moved away from Appleby, her first slave owner, she begins to volunteer in a church teaching African’s how to read and write. Aminata takes her time out of her say to give other people who are less fortunate the gift of education. For those who can’t read, she reads political documents to them. “For those who hadn’t already heard the rumors, I opened the Royal Gazette and read aloud the notice of the peace treaty from the commander-in-chief of all His Majesty’s Forces in the Colonies.” (Hill 282). She acted as a leader for the African community, and gives them the information they need to succeed in life and get away from the problems they are facing. Another Character that plays a archetypal is Appleby, the plantation owner where Aminata first started her slave work when she came to the United States. Appleby was the worst person that Aminata had encountered. He was so cruel and had no regard for the well being and happiness of Aminata. The worst thing that Appleby did to Aminata was, when he found out that she had got married to Checkura, he shaved her head and threatened the life of her baby: “You don’t own that baby any more than you own that wool on your head. They both belong to me”. After that Appleby even sold her baby to another slave and this devastated Aminata. Aminata could never get over the awful things that Appleby did to her. Appleby was a constant fight for Aminata, even mentally when she left his plantation which made him be the archetype of the “villain” in the novel.

When I read this book I noticed that the characters and their archetype reminded me of a lot of figures from other books, movies and in myths. Aminata immediately reminded me of the character “Katniss Everdeen” from the book and movie “The Hunger Games”. Katniss came to mind when I was reading this book because her and Aminata had a very similar situation. Aminata was taken away from her family to go become a slave, Just like Katniss was selected and forced to leave her friends and family to go play in the game where it is very likely you will die, as only one may survive. Both of them were faced with awful situations, but they both showed a heroic journey as they used their intelligence and dedication to try to get out of the situation and fight for what they believe in. Appleby also reminded me of the character ‘Scar’ from the movie “The Lion King” because of the evil I see in both of them. Appleby has no regard for the people around him and only cares for himself, which reminds me of Scar because he does not care about his brother or nephew or any one on the land, he just wants to be the king and will go to any measures to get what he wants. Both of these characters are very selfish and do not feel bad for other people, which shows they have a similar villain journey.

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The 2/3 of the book was very enjoyable and there was definitely a lot of ways you could look at it in a archetypal perspective, because there is many examples of archetypal journeys. I focused on writing on the “hero” and “Villain” archetypes because I liked the way that the two characters complemented each other and it really added to the interest of the story. I like the way the that the author made a variety of archetypes and kept the story interesting with the feud between Aminata and Appleby. I am looking forward to reading the last bit of the book and so far, I definitely recommend anyone to read it.


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