Lesson 170. What was Equiano’s attitude regarding his life in the British Navy?


In this essay I will be answering the essay question regarding Equiano and what his attitude was towards his life in the British Navy. This information is taken from Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography in the 9th grade English RPC course.

Olaudah Equiano (also called Gustavus Vassa) was a black African who was kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery. In his autobiography he recounts how he went from a frightened small boy of age twelve, to a confident sailor in the Royal Navy and then to a prominent spokesman against the enslavement of Africans.

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After Equiano was kidnapped from his village, he was a slave in a few various households before he was transported to America in a slave ship. From there he ended up in the British Royal Navy serving under his master. Equiano describes how, in the beginning, he was very scared and afraid of the white people. However, the excitements of being at sea gradually turned his fear into courage and contentment.

Here is an excerpt from the autobiography that captures Equiano’s transformation from a scared slave boy to a brave sailor.

“From the various scenes I had beheld on shipboard, I soon grew a stranger to terror of every kind, and was, in that respect at least, almost an Englishman.”

The autobiography does not directly state that Equiano loved being in the british navy yet it is quite clear that he did enjoy going to sea, as this is virtually the case throughout the entire autobiography for him. Equiano also expresses, at one point, that he wanted to go to war with the french in a naval engagement, which shows how he got more and more excited to become a sailor.

During a naval engagement that Equiano experienced, he described that he even was ‘hungry for a battle’ which also shows how Equiano was really excited to fight on the sea against the french.

I think that, in conclusion, Equiano was content with his life in the navy and definitely experienced more freedom than he might have had on a plantation in America.


To summarise and conclude, this essay was on Equiano and how he felt as a slave in the Royal British Navy. From his autobiography, we get a good picture of what it was like and how Equiano grew more and more confident as a sailor.


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