“Turned out of doors:” voluntary return and captive agency in the case of Mary prince
DOI: 10.1080/01440357.2001.10382965
Title: “Turned out of doors:” voluntary return and captive agency in the case of Mary prince
Journal Title: Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism
Volume: Volume 24
Issue: Issue 3
Publication Date: December 2001
Start Page: 59
End Page: 72
Published online: 29 Nov 2010
ISSN: 0144-0357
Author: Edlie L. Wonga
a Assistant Professor of English , Rutgers University , New Brunswick
Abstract: This article examines Mary Prince's 1831 account of her life in colonial slavery in order to ascertain her position as West Indian “slave” in England and her contingent status as a “free British subject” as long as she remained immobilized and bound to a nation to which she was a stranger. Prince's representation of her “captivity” in England poses crucial questions as to whether she can simultaneously claim to be a free and West Indian subject. In thus situating Prince's narrative, a more complex and multifaceted discussion of gender, home, freedom, and agency emerges from her struggles to assert her autonomy from her master and return to Antigua as a free woman. In this reading of Prince's autobiographical narrative, her representation of being “Turned out of doors” by her master in England radically reconfigures the meaning of freedom and posits an instance of slave agency characterized by the disavowal of free will.

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