Phillis Wheatley and Her Writing Techniques
Phillis Wheatleys poems do not focus on her condition as a slave, but rather on the white Christians view of slaves. She uses writing techniques such as biblical allusions, classical references, and neoclassical conventions. The style of Phillis Wheatleys poems is like that of writer Alexander Pope. The ideas expressed in her poems, however, are ideas of her own unique thoughts (African Anecdotes 335). The white Christian view of slaves and these techniques are revealed in such works as: On Being Brought From Africa to America, To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth, His Majestys Principal Secretary of State For North America, and c., To Maecenas, To the University of Cambridge, in New England, Thoughts on the Works of Providence, and His Excellency General Washington.
The two best known works that focus on the Christian whites view of slaves are On Being Brought From Africa to America and To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth, His Majestys Principal Secretary of State For North America, and c. (Davis 342). Wheatley writes primarily for white Christians, embracing white Christian attitudes and values. She feels a distinct separation from her people (Jamison 1887). The reason Wheatley wrote from a white point of view is because everything she read and memorized was of a white author ( Jordan 1896). Another reason for her poetry taking the white point of view is because what she wrote
was dictated by whites; Her mind was controlled by them, her actions were controlled by them, and consequently her pen (Jamison 1890).Wheatleys life during the length of time in which all but a few of her poems were written was comfortable and cultivated. This fact plays a large role in her writing from a whites point of view. Due to the fact that she was not subjected to the relative harshness of slavery, she adopted a white point of view (Collins 345).
She does not focus on her condition as a slave or the condition of the many other slaves (Loggins 1885).
In the poem, On Being Brought From Africa to America, Wheatley states: Some view our race with scornful eye (Wheatley 825). This statement reveals that she is aware of how white Christians view slaves (Scruggs 353). Wheatley also states that white Christians view the Negros color as a diabolic dye (Wheatley 825). Her use of the word diabolic means having qualities of the devil (Randomhouse). It is obvious, that in the last couple of lines in the poem, that Wheatley accepts