In a few short lines, the poem "On Being Brought from Africa to America" juxtaposes religious language with the institution of slavery, to touch on the ideas of equality, salvation, and liberty. Phillis Wheatley uses several literary elements to convey her complex but succinct message to the reader, and understanding those methods is vital to grappling with the poem. This interactive teaching plan will help students further grasp the concepts involved in Wheatley's poetry, examining the themes, symbols, and vocabulary she used.
Phillis Wheatley was an African slave and one of the best-known poets in colonial America. Her fate and fame came with the help of John Wheatley, the man who saved her from a life of hard slavery. Phillis became not only a household name, but also a living testament to the intelligence of Africans, debunking contemporary stereotypes with her articulate creativity. Wheatley became a face for the abolitionist movement long before it began in earnest. Her works, centering on race, religion, politics, and social commentary, enlightened many people and affected a change in attitudes.