In Two Volumes. The title character is an escaped slave and religious zealot who aids fellow slave refugees and spends most of the novel plotting a slave rebellion. He is a composite of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner, two real leaders of slave insurrections. On the other hand, Stowe imbues Dred with many of the prevailing racial stereotypes of African American men as savages. As Stowe describes him: "The large eyes had that peculiar and solemn effect of unfathomable blackness and darkness which is often a striking characteristic of the African eye.
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Plot summary[ edit ] Dred is the story of Nina Gordon, an impetuous young heiress to a large southern plantation , whose land is rapidly becoming worthless. Nina is a flighty young girl, and maintains several suitors, before finally settling down with a man named Clayton.
Clayton is socially and religiously liberal, and very idealistic, and has a down-to-earth perpetual-virgin sister, Anne. There is also a family of poor whites, who have but a single, devoted slave, Old Tiff. Dred, the titular character, is one of the Great Dismal Swamp maroons , escaped slaves living in the Great Dismal Swamp, preaching angry and violent retribution for the evils of slavery and rescuing escapees from the dog of the slavecatchers.
Dred, by contrast, introduces a black revolutionary character who is presented as an heir to the American revolution rather than a problem to be expatriated. Dred himself is a composite of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner , two real leaders of slave insurrections. It was humane sentiments rather than the rule of law that would be the lever for antislavery action.
Swamps were places where runaway slaves could hide, and therefore became a taboo subject, particularly in the south. The best hiding places were found on high ground in swampy areas. The novel also contains detailed descriptions of the wetlands in the "Dismal Swamp" and is therefore also interesting in the context of the way in which African Americans relate to the natural environment.
Summary of "Dred". Documenting the American South. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brophy, "Over and above Adams, John R. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Twayne Publishers, Inc. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. Delombard, Jeannine Marie. Grant, David. Hamilton, Cynthia S.
Karafilis, Maria. Levine, Robert.
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp
OUR readers will perhaps feel an interest to turn back with us, and follow the singular wanderings of the mysterious personage, whose wild denunciations had so disturbed the minds of the worshippers at the camp-meeting. There is a twilight-ground between the boundaries of the sane and insane, which the old Greeks and Romans regarded with a peculiar veneration. They held a person whose faculties were thus darkened as walking under the awful shadow of a supernatural presence; and, as the mysterious secrets of the stars only become visible in the night, so in these eclipses of the more material faculties they held there was often an awakening of supernatural perceptions. The hot and positive light of our modern materialism, which exhales from the growth of our existence every dewdrop, which searches out and dries every rivulet of romance, which sends an unsparing beam into every cool grotto of poetic possibility, withering the moss, and turning the dropping cave to a dusty den -- this spirit, so remorseless, allows us no such indefinite land. There are but two words in the whole department of modern anthropology -- the sane and the insane; the latter dismissed from human reckoning almost with contempt.
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