Every human being values the importance of freedom in his or her life. As a result, different societies across the globe have for many centuries worked on ways and means of ensuring that their freedom is not violated by anything or anybody. Whereas this has been the case, there are many instances that reveal that it is difficult for human beings to attain total freedom, especially with some being mighty and powerful in the society while others are weak and poor. In this line of thought, the mighty and the powerful have formulated strategies that have enabled them to remain in power while the weak and the poor have continued to be suppressed by the societal structures that favor the rich. There are different accounts in the history of mankind that reveals how the society and individual entities in these societies have struggled for many years to attain the sought after freedom. Among these accounts are those of Briton Hammon and Venture.
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The 18th century is one of the periods in the recent history that is characterized by a complete violation of both societal and individual freedom. This period was characterized by slavery, traditional wars, a society guided by male chauvinism and the beginning of a large scale civilization that would later lay down the foundation for globalization. As a result, different societies across the world sought for ways and means of expanding their territories under an iron rule, through which many individual persons were greatly affected. Yet, from all these events of the 18th century, one of the questions that still linger in the mind of mankind is; what is freedom? Freedom can be described as a state whereby one is free to exercise free will or rather a state where a person is not constrained or hindered by anything in the society.
One of the evidence that there is a lack of freedom is suffering. Despite the fact that one may be feeding well, clothed warmly and have a shelter, this does not imply that one has freedom. As it has been argued above, the well being of the lives of human beings does not necessarily mean that these people are free. Freedom, among other things requires that there is a total elimination of suffering of any form. In reference to Smith (1798), freedom in Venture’s home was limited in regard to his parents. The parents of Venture were not able to agree on the issue of his father marrying a third wife. Venture’s mother therefore does not enjoy the freedom of making decision or rather participating in making important decisions in the family. Freedom thus entails not only enjoying the material things that one can access to but also the ability for one to make decisions independently in the society that one is living in. More to this point, the ability of a person to be listened to in the society also defines freedom. For instance, Venture’s mother was not listened to leave alone being consulted as were the traditions in those days by Venture’s father in regard to marrying a third wife.
Freedom of choice among children is also an issue of concern in the society. Whereas children are supposed to obey their parents, there are decisions that are made by their parents that affect their lives in a negative way. Yet children have no freedom in terms of choosing what they require or rather want for their lives. In this regard, Venture is not in a position to choose freely the person whom he would like to stay or rather live with. For example, when disagreements between his parents ensue, his mother flees away with him to a distant land which he did not know. As a young boy, he did not have the freedom of choosing the parent to stay with and is forced to go with his mother. In the same way, when his mother goes back to his father without his knowledge, a man is send to pick him, despite the fact that the man he was staying with treated him well just the way he treated his son. As a matter of fact, the state of being a child has been found to erode away the status of freedom that one is supposed to enjoy.
Following this point, attaining adulthood does not guarantee that one will be in a position of enjoying total freedom. In fact, one’s adulthood can be just another channel or door to lack of freedom in the society. The life of an adult comprises of many issues that greatly contribute to lack of freedom. The life of Venture as an adult is a narration of one incidence to another in regard to lack of freedom. While working as a slave, one loses everything, including the right to one’s own life. In reference to Venture’s life, among the privileges that one lost after being sold as a slave was freedom. This was followed with a sudden change of life, with a person who was independent enough to make decisions on his or her own being forced to rely on the decisions that were made by another person. Thing are made worse when the person who has been subjected to the other is treated in a violent way.
The way to obtaining freedom has in most cases comprised of violence rather than peace. It must be understood that whereas entail enjoying one’s peace, this cannot in any way be attained until one has affirmed his or authority within a particular society. For example, Venture’s father could not rule and lead his people with the freedom he required since he was under a constant attack by the army that came against them. Whereas one may be able to buy freedom, this does not apply in the case of Venture’s further who paid out a lot of cash to the army that was about to attack him, only for this army to attack him again. On the other hand, Briton Hammon is faced by calamity after another as his master worked on ways of getting him to a place where he could be used properly. Yet, there is a lot of resistance that occurs along the way, leading to loss of lives in some cases. While this did not secure freedom for every person, it manages to secure freedom for Hammon from the Red Indians who had attacked and burnt their vessel.
This also raises key questions on the ability of a person to move freely in any part of the world. Whereas all human being are considered to be the same in the society, there are restrictions that have been formulated by the society that restricts the movement of people from one part of the world to another. Similarly, when one is moved from a condition that is considered as a worse or terrible condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one has been able to attain his or her freedom. After being released from the dungeon upon the request or rather interventions by Captain of the Ship that was bound to Old Spain, still Hammon did not find freedom. Instead, while under the care of the Captain, he tried many times to escape and find his own freedom.
With this in mind, there are different levels of freedom that are brought out in these two essays. These types of freedom vary due to the fact that the effects of lack of freedom vary from one to another. For instance, there are countless number situations that are mentioned in the two essays that express the minds of the narrators in regard to their perception towards different levels of freedom. When Hammon is confined in a dungeon, he finds it easy or rather generally agrees to go with the Captain who despite treating him more of a slave rather than a human being was less harsh than the dungeon. In the same way, when Venture is handcuffed, he preferred it as compared to working on the farm where he could be allowed to move more freely without restriction. To prove that he was discontented with the conditions under which his master had subjected him, he agreed to be chained even in the feet and was more comfortable in these chains than walk without them and yet be subjected to human cruelty. In fact, he referred to the handcuffs as the gold chains and gave thank to her master for giving them to him.
Thus these characters find themselves seeking for better condition that the ones they were in. These conditions however do not offer total freedom but allowed some form of freedom as compared to the previous conditions. Following this point, it can arguably be said that humanity has pursued freedom for a long time without finding the actual freedom that is sought after. In this regard, people have settled for freedom that is not really what they sought for but that which removes some uncomfortable situations in their lives. This brings this argument to the second issue. Obtaining freedom is a process.
Throughout the two essays, there is no single person who able to obtain his or her freedom at an instant. Instead, all people mentioned by the narrators in these essays mention circumstances and events that they and their accomplices went through as they sought for their freedom. It did not come just at a blink of an eye. Instead, the victims went through circumstances that brought them closer to their freedom. Hammon, in a bid to gain his freedom accepts to accompany the Captain while deep in his heart this was to bear him his freedom. Therefore, while with the Captain he and a few others devise a scheme to escape just to ensure that they are able to break free from the element of slavery in their lives.
There are various issues that are revealed in this essay in regard to freedom. First, endurance as a virtue is of utmost importance for any person to have in order to secure his or her freedom. The narratives by both Hammon and Venture reveal a great deal of endurance as these worked their way through different hardships, some of which threatened their lives just for them to receive their freedom. In his connection, Venture endured different hardship including shying away from luxuries with one goal in mind; buying freedom for his wife and children. Similarly, Hammon suffered greatly as he offered himself to work for different people until he had been able to find his own freedom.
In this connection, freedom, a status of being able to express oneself freely is one of the most sought after issue in the society. It should be noted that freedom in the society is a process and cannot be obtained on a single instance. As a result, there is need for endurance for one to be in a position to obtain true freedom, i.e. where one’s decisions cannot in any way be influenced by the environment around them, both positively or negatively. Instead, it is a situation where one needs to express oneself together with his ideas without any restrictions.
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