Benito Cereno Paper
Is the central theme in Benito Cereno supposed to be based on slavery? The main theme of the novel, good vs. evil is really the conflict of the plot. Much of the story revolves on the destructive force of evil. The initial evil of the story, and the one that causes all the action is the instituation of slavery. Melville clearly believes that it is wrong for one human being to own another. And as this inhuman action takes place, the natural reaction would be to rebel, as done on board the San Dominick. The main theme being good verses evil, it is very possible that the central issue in Benito Cereno is slavery.
The central connection to the evil of the story is the excessive violnce of the slaves during their revolt. The role playing of the slaves are quite controversial. To some, the slaves give a negative impression and to others a positive impression. The novel deeply emphasizing the evil of slavery, plays on the fears of the southerners. And perhaps this was the puspose of Melville writing this anti-slavery story.
Kaplan seems to believe that Melville was very much racist in writing this particular book. The slaves were portrayed in such an evil manner, convincing Kaplan that the slaves were portrayed as a negative group of people. In his critical analysis essay, he obviously feels that the main theme was supposed to be based on the optimisim of slavery, because the slaves were evil.Kaplan's view on what the central theme was supposed to be, is that Melville's purpose in writing this book was to write elaborately on his position as an abolitionist and what he wanted.
"Melville as subtle abolitionist in Benito Cereno may be a construction of generous wish rather than hard fact(Kaplan 37)."And so is it possible that Melville meant his book to have as little or hardly anything to do with slavery or even the violence portrayed by them?
In Swann's critical analysis, he makes it