12 Years a Slave tells about the life of Solomon Northup during the pre-Civil War United States. He was a free black man who lived in upstate New York who became famous locally for playing the fiddle well. His wife, Ann Hampton, was a woman of mixed ancestry. Together they had three children. One day, two men apporached him and asked him to join a traveling musical show, with a promise of generous wages. After he accepted, he was druged and sold to slavery. He was treated brutally as he continued to insist that he was a freeman. Left with no choice, he accepted his fate and ended up serving several masters, some cruel while others were kind. After years of bondage, he met an abolitionist from Canada. He elicited his help and asked him to send a letter to Louisiana. An official state agent reclaimed Northup, and he went home to his family.
The object, which is the movie 12 Years a Slave, explains various ideas which are The story helped present many Forms, and one of them is beauty. Patsey, a slave Northup met in the cotton plantation, was a hardworker who was also repeatedly raped by her master. Northup described her as the “enslaved victim of lust and hate” (Northup 295). Beauty is is having the strength to withstand difficulties but still sees hope despite the grimness of the situation. Patsey withstood the regular beatings and verbal abuse hurled at her by her mistress, and still continued to work well in the plantation. It takes a great amount of strength, a trait not normally associated to women, to endure such hardships. Taking away the physical attributes of both Mistress Epps and Patsey, the pure and transcendent concept of beauty according to Plato lies on Patsey (Plato 289).
Equality, as taught by the story, is when a person defends himself when victimized by people consumed by jealousy. When Tibeats attempted to whip Northup for a dubious offense, he fought back, knowing that he did not deserve it. Realizing that the attempts would not stop, Northup chose to escape. This Form of equality, wherein one preserves himself from unjust treatment, is consistent with Plato’s description of pure and transcendent (Banach), as difficulties failed to overcome it.
Justice is also described in the story, and according to Plato’s theory of Forms, justice in the story is when a person is saved from a difficult predicament by people who believe in you. Northup was saved from slavery when Mr. Bass believed that he was a free man who was abducted and sold to slavery, and sent the letter to his hometown. He was also believed by the shopowner who came to get him.
The movie is made up of different concepts that define its characters. The concept of justice, equality and beauty are some concepts that define the characters. Patsey represents beauty as although her physical features were marred by the suffering that she had to endure, her strength and determination to get through her everyday life remains. Northup embodies equality as he fought with all his might his right not to be beaten for some minor offense that he believed was not worthy of the pain that would have been inflicted on him. He also represents justice as when he was finally able to prove that he was a free man, he filed a case against those people who drugged and sold him to slavery.
In relation to Aristotle’s idea of forms, these concepts that characterized the characters in the story, involve material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause (Fields). The concepts of justice, equality and justice all reside on Northup and Patsey, which is why they were able to recognize the acts of injustice committed against them. This refers to the material cause. The formal cause is characterized by their recognition of the concepts that they possess, which explains why they understand the idea of abuse. When they were confronted by the abuse inflicted on them, they were able to act accordingly, Northup to fight back while Patsey chose to remain strong. This now is the efficient cause. As a result, Northup, who was able to regain his freedom, became once again a free man, which was what made up his matter, while Patsey remained a slave, both her original and final form.
In understanding the object, I find that Plato’s theory of Forms was a better theory in explaining the object. It presented simple concepts that made the analysis of each of the character and the concepts that they represent simpler to unerstand and explain. Looking at the object, I can say that it has both sentimental and memorial qualities as the concept of justice, equality and beauty are prevalent in the society today. There are different forms through which they are manifested and interpreted, and both their sentimental and memorial qualities are necessary in the formation of a person’s body and soul.
The ability to recognize abuse and be able to fight against it in order to let justice and equality prevail struck me. In this world where competition and the desire to overpower others in order to stay on top of the game, it is important to recognize when abuse is present. This gives an individual the opportunity to choose whether to fight back and prevent abuse from happening, or take it all in and remain strong in the face of it.
My response to Plato’s Theory of Forms strengthened his ideas and proved that aside from the physical forms that characterize each person and object, there is a transcendent and pure form that remains the same.
12 Years a Slave. Dir. Steve McQueen. Perf. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita
Nyong’o. Twentieth Century Fox. 2013. Film.
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