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“Into Bondage” Essay

Essay 1

Art is one of the most significant aspects of a civilised society, with its own set of values and concerns. It became one of the most effective tools in people’s arsenals to address serious issues or draw attention to a specific occurrence as it evolved from being a method to convey sentiments and emotions into one of the most powerful instruments utilized by individuals to address serious problems or call attention to a certain occurrence.

In this regard, it’s no surprise that the 20th century brought forth a plethora of new artistic styles intended to assist individuals express their viewpoints on a certain topic or appeal to a population. The development of social movements, democracy and tolerance gave the depressed classless a chance to demonstrate their views and gain reconsideration of the situation peculiar to that period.

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Aaron Douglas’ painting Into Bondage was featured in this era. It was created in 1936, when Douglas was asked to paint a series of murals for an exhibition in Dallas (“Aaron Douglas”). The depicted image is one of four works depicting the difficulties African Americans had to overcome in order to be free. Aaron Douglas was a luminary of the Harlem Renaissance, a period that flourished between the First and Second World Wars and sought to draw public attention to issues affecting African Americans living in the United States ( “Into Bondage. Overview”).

Many artists and writers created their pieces to demonstrate the important part African-American culture played in the states’ development and help people consider how society might be weakened if any racism were removed. Furthermore, Douglas was one of those who correctly understood the tremendous power of art as a tool for changing peoples’ mindsets and raising questions about racial attitudes. In terms of Harlem Renaissance, his most significant works, ideas, motifs, and aims must be considered.

The painting Into Bondage is not an exception. It’s a great illustration of how one artist may use his or her talents to pique people’s interest and encourage them to consider their role in improving a problem. We may say that the author used these pictures to illustrate African-Americans’ challenging position as well as their eagerness to fight for their fundamental rights based on our analysis of this artwork.

The situation is a little complicated. The Into Bondage painting depicts Africans who are enslaved and being prepared for transport to the New World, or America. In the background, there is a line of people approaching ships that resemble those in the foreground. They’re all chained up. There are several palm trees and other vegetation around them, implying that they may be in foreign countries such as Africa.

The men standing on the boats are facing forward, most of them with their shoulders and heads bowed, which depicts that they have accepted their fate and given up hope; nevertheless, there are two additional individuals who might be considered focal for the image. The first one raises her hands in front of her face, towards the star that may be seen in the sky. It gleams brightly, and its beams illuminates a guy who stands tall with his head high. His bearing is full of confidence, pride, and resolve.

He is clearly unwilling to succumb to fate and be enslaved. He wishes to struggle for his freedom rather than submitting himself to slavery. The artist used a variety of symbols in this picture that may be interpreted by the audience in order to enhance the image’s impact and encourage people think about the challenging destiny of African-Americans who were forced to leave their native land and live under terrible circumstances. Furthermore, the North Star featured in the painting has significant significance.

The fact is that runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad moved at night, and they used this star as their main landmark to lead them to freedom (“Aaron Douglas”). A man looks up at this star in the picture, which illuminates him. It implies that he too wants freedom and knows how to achieve it. Furthermore, manacles visible in the image are obvious symbols for slavery. They’re worn as a symbol of depression and deprivation of rights by individuals.

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These symbols and hidden meanings are completely representative of the artist’s era and historical period. He was a member of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement dedicated to reconsidering the status of African-Americans in American society. That is why utilizing images to accentuate the versatility of these individuals’ lives was a typical technique.

During the last half of the century, artworks that focused on slavery, prejudice, and other negative themes were produced (“Harlem Renaissance”). They aimed to show how horrendous African-Americans’ lives were in order to encourage international understanding. That’s why Into Bondage works well within the context. It depicts slavery’s terrible aspect while also suggesting people’s eagerness to fight for change.

Looking at the picture, we may also identify several important features pertaining to the method and style. First and foremost, we can discover Cubist-influenced forms (“Aaron Douglas”). Douglas employs a similar approach to create both figures and scenery. The curves are direct and occasionally disrupted. However, it is not a pure cubism; additional significant elements may be seen. As a result, the manacles and star are two of the brightest objects in the image. The orange color of the manacles stands out against the light tints of the environment.

The use of several hues of blue, green, red, and yellow contributes to the overall effect and helps to generate a distinct gloomy atmosphere (“Into Bondage. Overview”). It’s possible that the viewer understands that this is one of humanity’s most devastating moments, and these individuals will go through much suffering. There is also another bright thing in the sky that may be seen. It is crimson in color, with a vivid yellow highlight ray emanating from it.

The star is drawn in the way that attracts viewers’ attention at first sight, which is why it has such a significant meaning. Douglas employs a monochrome color scheme that may be noticed right away. There are no vivid or different colors. One hue fades into the next without clear boundaries or bright lines.

The distinctive look of this photograph is created by the use of such colors and geometric forms. Furthermore, Into Bondage is well-balanced and pleasant. The artist repeats the most common shapes like leaves, trees, and vines to create a specific balance and prevent overloading various parts of his artwork. Simultaneously, he emphasizes the figure in the middle with light to draw attention to it while using these pictorial effects to assist you better comprehend the primary message and appreciate his creation.

At first sight, Into Bondage might appear to be quite straightforward because to the lack of little details or complicated hues. However, based on my own personal experience, I can say that this apparent simplicity is tough to achieve. The author utilizes the very colors required to create a certain mood and impress a viewer. Furthermore, the use of shapes, forms, and light focus also contribute to the final effect. Because of this, we may infer that recreating a picture in this manner is quite tough and getting the same impact. Obviously, Douglas had a specific vision in mind for which he later achieved with this painting.

Aaron Douglas’ painting Into Bondage, in which I detect great meaning, impresses me the most. It depicts a person’s struggle for rights and tolerance, as seen through the lens of an African-American’s life. We may summarize Aaron Douglas’ painting Into Bondage as a depiction of the fight for rights and tolerance. People depicted there are enslaved; nevertheless, they appear to be prepared to act. The forms, colors, and symbols in the work astound a normal viewer. By using shapes, colors, and symbols effectively, the artist was able to create a one-of-a-kind picture that might cause people think about one of our society’s most serious stmas.

Essay 2

The word “bondage” comes from the Latin term meaning “to fasten together.” It is generally used to describe a state of servitude or subjection owing to the force, power, or influence of another individual. The motif of bondage appears throughout Charles Johnson’s novel Middle Passage. Characters are physically, emotionally, and psychologically enslaved. Some people are enslaved and are unable to break free. Others consent to be placed in such circumstances willingly.

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Some of the characters in the novel are liberated and move forward with their lives. Other characters are unable to attain freedom since their existence comes to an end violently. Rutherford Calhoun, a former slave, is introduced to us on the first page of the book. He has just been set free and has opted to stay in New Orleans (2). “’New Orleans wasn’t simply my home,’ he explains; rather, it was ‘heaven,’ according to him”(2).

He is looking for a life of happiness and self-direction, according to Rutherford. However, he is connected to new things. “Rutherford discovers that his freedom is merely a different form of slavery,” according to Barbara Z. Thaden (254). He gets hooked on gambling, thievery, and debt.

The protagonist, Rutherford, is a young black man who has been enslaved for ten years. He develops into a petty thief in New Orleans and comes to the conclusion that “stealing was a way to shake off stress and occupy his hands” (103). In New Orleans, Rutherford becomes a petty thief. He claims that he “looked for honest employment,” but “found nothing,” so he stole” (3). According to Rutherford, theft was “a method to release tension and keep his hands occupied” (103).

“Stealing, for Rutherford, is more than a job; it is a way of life, according to scholar Ashraf H.A. Rushdy” (376). Reverend Peleg Chandler “[noticed] the stickiness of his fingers” when he was a youngster (3). Rutherford steals Josiah Squibb’s document in order to gain access aboard the Republic and then persists in stealing throughout the trip.

Rutherford becomes addicted to gambling, and as a result, he finds himself in debt. Rutherford would play card games that went on for three days and nights (7). Because he lost most of the card games he played and used what money he had to participate in them. They were forced to give up their freedom so that they could become enslaved by the Republic. They were treated cruelly, with only one way out: mutiny. The Allmuseri joined forces as well.

Thaden shows that Johnson had “incorporated into the Allmuseri mindset many traditional Buddhist ideas,” (255) and the Allmuseri thought that the ship was destined to death because they had killed so many white people.

“Rutherford learns on his voyage that the more people break free from the confines of others, the tighter they become bound to their own egos,” Thaden adds. Johnson demonstrates throughout the novel that no individual is truly free and that freedom doesn’t exist without bondage.

After his time aboard the Republic, Rutherford gains a new concept of liberty, while Falcon is never freer because he takes his own life. “Rutherford learns that bonds and connections are a question of surrender to another realm of existence rather than race or biological fate,” according to scholar Ashraf H.A. Rushdy (377).

Essay 3

The moving and powerful painting, Into Bondage, is on display in the Negro Hall of Life as a potent reminder of slavery’s history and journey. Aaron Douglas, who was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and 30s, was commissioned to paint murals for the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. A quote from his letter to Langston Hughes in 1925 provides inspiration for a new approach to black culture art expression.

“Let us bare our arms and plunge them deep into laughter, through pain, sorrow, hope, and disappointment into the very depths of the souls of our people. Let’s sing it, dance it, write it, paint it. Let’s attempt the impossible.” The painting depicts an African American’s life when all they’ve known up to that point is being taken away from them, according to one of the four paintings he was paid for. When their feet touched their native soil for the last time as they watched the ships arrive to transport them as slaves to an unknown future, they were shackled and possibly beaten.

The men, despite their misery and hopelessness, were filled with hope as they gazed up at the light from the North Star, which bathed them in optimism that they would eventually return to their people and reclaim their freedom. This painting acknowledged not only the difficulties and obstacles African Americans had to overcome in order for them to get where they are now, but also a testament of continual resistance for their rights. The Harlem Renaissance was a period of time to commemorate their victories and freedom, as well as to utilize art as one example of how far they had come and as a daily reminder to fight for their rights, the human right.

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Billie Holiday

“It was Billie Holiday who had the greatest musical influence on me,” stated Frank Sinatra. Strange Fruit was written by a white Jewish school teacher named Lewis Allan to expose the problem of lynching in America. The song was initially a poem written by a white Jewish school instructor named Lewis Allan to highlight the issue of lynching in America. It is considered to be the first great protest song.

Billie Holiday was one of the first black women to collaborate with an orchestra. She had a significant impact on the Harlem Renaissance and influenced others around her. Despite being told no and being prohibited from recording the song because of its significance, she persisted. It was a call for civil rights, and she wanted nothing more than to shed light on the problems and challenges of African-Americans.

She included in the act of singing the song, a ritual of sorts, as a signal and badge of resistance against oppression. As Billie Holiday was often known as “Lady Day,” she utilized this method to force the crowd of mostly white spectators to “face” and “hear” the words and get the message behind the lyrics.

Black Americans were compared to rotten fruit by W.E.B. Du Bois in “Nigger Jim” (1909). He claimed that one could see what he meant when he wrote, “The bodies of dead negroes are commonly hung from the limb of a tree.” Just as an unpicked fruit rots and becomes infested, black people were also neglected; they were forced to hang from trees amid the delicious scents, then killed so that their blood might drip onto the tree limbs, leaves, and ground. They were left to rot just like a forgotten fruit does.

Billie Holiday used her voice to draw attention to the terrible treatment of black people in the past, as well as current difficulties, by singing songs. She sang from a place of anguish not just for the community, but also for her race and her father, who died because he was denied medical care while serving in World War II.

Fashion

Anne Lowe’s, an African-American designer’s, fascinating, classy, and contemporary clothing became the most popular attire in the United States and especially in the African American community after just a few years. The clothing of the Victorian era was rapidly fading away, and during the Harlem Renaissance zoot suits, flapper dresses, crimson silk panty hose, pearls, feather accessories, and modern fashionable hats were among the many fashions seen on the streets and shops.

The people flaunted their individual style as a form of self-expression. Hair was clean, smoothed down, and pushed back, and most often covered by a hat. Shoes were made for dancing, and most importantly, the additional adornments added to the look. The ladies would frequently hand sew their dresses with rhinestones and gems, feathers, or decorations to complete the appearance with a necklace of pearls around their necks and silk gloves on their hands. It was truly a momentous change in fashion history.

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