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The present essay compares two essays: The Turkish Embassy Letters written by Lady Mary Wortley and Interesting Narrative of Life by Olaudah Equiano. The essay compares various aspects of the two texts by first describing each text in terms of the content, structure, and the historical and social context in which each of them was produced. This is followed by a focused analysis of the two texts based on the comparison of the generic nexus with evidence from the texts. Finally, the conclusion summarizes on what the essay will have covered.
1.Description of the texts
1.1 The Turkish Embassy Letters by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Mary Montagu wrote The Turkish Embassy Letters in the eighteenth century while she was travelling with her husband who had been appointed as the Ambassador Extraordinary to the Court of Turkey (Montagu 14). Her letters can be classified as part of non-fictional genre as they are in the form of letters to friends and acquaintances exhibiting a lot of reflexive contemplations. The letters depict her just like in autobiography. They are not just a casual compilation of her own posts; on the contrary, she carefully wrote, edited, and refined them with the aim of having them published after she dies.
Her letters are basically a description of the funny encounters and features in the foreign culture in an honest and witty language. To her friend Alexander Pope, she wrote about the beauty of the Turkish poetry, while to her other correspondents she wrote about her impression by the liberty given to Turkish women by the cultural institutions. She also wrote about how she got amused by the unpretentious behavior of the Turkish women in the baths, comparing them to English coffeehouses (Lowenthal 102). Generally, Mary wrote about so many things that were happening during that time including the political period known as the “nonsense of common sense”. One thing that she learnt and was able to introduce in her home country England was the Turkish inoculation against smallpox. Her letters were all about her experiences after crossing a geographical border.
1.2 The Interesting Narrative of Life by Olaudah Equiano
The text on the life of Olaudah Equiano was written in the eighteenth century when the slave trade was in its heights. Olaudah Equiano was enslaved when he was a young boy and, still in his youth, had lived through the many hardships of slavery until he finally managed to acquire education and freedom. Subsequently, he became a major voice advocating for the end of slavery. He wrote the narrative about his life in 1789 and since then it has become a sensation to many and remained a useful anecdotal source of information about the European slave trade. He compares the slavery in Africa to the one he had experienced in the Western hemisphere. In his home in Africa, he described the kind of life he had by an example of tillage done on the plains far away from where people lived. The only tools used were hoes and shovels. The author also states that slaves in Africa were simply obtained through kidnapping or one had to apply through a letter to the chief (Equiano, chapter 2).
As for his European slavery, Equiano described how he and his sister had been abducted unmercifully in the absence of their parents. They were seized from their home by foreigners who even did not let them cry, tied their hands, and carried them to a very far place where they were caught up by night. They were then taken to a house with robbers who harassed them before they got shipped and sold to slavery for the white men. Equiano then continues to write on how he got educated, converted to Christianity, and how he ended his life in slavery.
2.Comparison of the two texts
The two texts are similar in various aspects, such as genre, historical context, and structure. In terms of genre, the two texts are non-fictional. They are both about experiences of people as they cross geographical borders. In The Turkish Embassy Letters, Mary is crossing the border as she is heading to Turkey. She, therefore, writes about her experiences in Turkey which are positive, unlike those of Olaudah Equiano. Olaudah writes about his difficult experiences of slavery in the Western hemisphere where he underwent great tortures and mistreatment. Basically, the two texts are of the same genre as the both writers shared their experiences.
There is, however, a difference in the content of the two texts. In The Turkish Embassy Letters, Mary is writing in admiration of her experiences. She is impressed by so many things in Turkey that she at times expresses regret over what she left behind. On the other hand, the text by Olaudah usually condemns the events he had had to go through. He talks of the horrible experiences of his own and stands firmly against slavery. The other difference is that Mary crossed border as part of her husband’s ambassador mission, which was quite an honorable cause, while Olaudah crossed the geographical border forcibly under very painful circumstances.
The two texts are also similar in terms of the historical period when they were written. However, even though both texts were created in the 18th century, the experiences of the two authors were different and in stark contrast to each other. Mary’s was a nice experience since she held a royal position of the ambassador’s wife, while Olaudah could only have the grim memories of his slavery. Basically, they were written in the same historical period, but they nevertheless bear very contrasting experiences. The experiences of the two authors, therefore, portray a barrier in their lives imposed by their social status. Whereas the first one is a royalty, the second one is a slave. The other difference is that Mary’s home country was England, whereas Olaudah came from Africa. As a result, the two authors are writing from very different social perspectives. All in all, they are crossing borders with very different experiences from those of their home countries.
The text by Olaudah depicts the various borders that he crossed – not only geographical, but also ones created by race, lack of knowledge, and religion. Being a slave of the lieutenant, he was able to enjoy various opportunities that let him learn something. He was, therefore, able to acquire knowledge which later enabled him to buy his freedom. He then crossed the border of religion in 1777 when he accepted Christianity. He then became an abolitionist and this opened opportunities for him to work. First, he was hired by the English government to assist in the settlement of poor Africans in London. All his achievements were made possible by his intelligent nature and a knack for learning the language, law, and religion of his enslavers.
The analysis of the two texts gives an insight into various circumstances of the authors. The authors are having similar experiences and different circumstances in the crossing of borders. One travelled under royal protection, while the other one was in slavery. Mary shares her experiences in order to bring new anecdotes to her home country England, while Olaudah was propelled to act against the slave trade. Basically, the two authors have learnt from their lives. Olaudah crossed various borders of knowledge, religion, and social status that have enabled him to write of his experiences and to save his fellow countrymen from slave trade. The two texts were also written in the same historical period, that is, in the eighteenth century. They are also of the same non-fictional genre and the content of both is also similar. Basically, that is the analysis of the two texts from the various aspects.