Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Mouse's Petition- An appeal for the religious minority

After reading the poem by Barbauld and further researching her I believe that her piece could be an allegory protesting the discrimination of religious minorities. She herself was a Presbyterian dissenter which made her a part of a disenfranchised religious minority. In the poem there is a serious appeal to consider all men as equal and to not exploit others. She appeals to the ideal of universal brotherhood in the section:

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find ;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

A previous blogger has suggested that this poem is alluding to slavery and the plight of slavery. While I agree that this is a probable and fitting assumption. I believe that the poem speaks more to the immediate reality of its author, at least in part. I believe the piece is more fully read as an allegory fighting against the evil of the slave trade as well as all unfair treatment of disenfranchised peoples.

1 comment:

  1. This interpretation is further substantiated by Barbauld's address to Priestley, an important scientific figure of the time (he discovered oxygen) and a religious dissenter. Priestley's home was later burned because of his support of the French revolution and he immigrated to America to avoid further persecution.