The Life of Olaudah Equiano

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The Life of Olaudah Equiano Characters

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa)

The narrator and protagonist of the book, Equiano was born in modern-day Nigeria, where he was kidnapped at the age of eleven before being transported to the coast and sold into slavery. He was brought… (read full character analysis)

Michael Henry Pascal

Pascal is the owner of a merchant ship who buys Equiano from the first plantation where he works. Though Pascal is the first white man to treat Equiano kindly, he later cruelly betrays Equiano and… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Equiano’s sister
Kidnapped into slavery along with Equiano, his sister is initially a source of comfort. However, they are separated, never to see each other again (in a custom that turns out to be normal in the slave trade).
Richard (Dick) Baker
A close friend to Equiano who spends time with him aboard several ships. Dick is one of the first white people his own age to treat Equiano kindly and without prejudice.
Nicholas Doberry
A merchant who hosted Pascal and Equiano for a few months with his family.
Nicholas Doberry’s daughter
A little girl who befriends Equiano while he is lodging with her family. He contrasts his own dark skin to her light skin, which unlike his grows red after washing, an experience that gives him one of his first frustrations with his race.
The Miss Guerins
Two relatives of Pascal with whom Equiano lodges when he first arrives in London. The women treat him kindly and set him on his life path by sending him to school and encouraging him to be baptized.
John Mondle
A sailor with questionable morals whose near-death experience is proof to Equiano of the role of Providence in human affairs.
Daniel Queen
A fellow passenger aboard the Aetna ship with Equiano who teaches him how to dress hair and instructs him in the Bible.
Captain James Doran
A captain who purchases Equiano from Pascal.
Mr. Robert King
A Quaker merchant who buys Equiano from Doran. King agrees to set Equiano’s price at 40 pounds, and allows Equiano to earn that much money and buy his own freedom.
Thomas Farmer
Another ship captain who hires Equiano and treats him relatively well, for example, by lending Equiano money for his own commercial projects.
Joseph Clipson
A free mulatto man who is forced back into slavery by a cruel captain. Clipson serves as a reminder to Equiano that freedom is always fragile for black people.
Mrs. Davis
A fortune teller in Philadelphia who foretells Equiano’s freedom, but also the suffering that lies ahead for him.
Dr. Perkins
A cruel slave owner in Georgia who, with his friend, beats Equiano nearly to death for loitering with his slaves.
Mr. Read
A merchant whose slave Equiano fights with in Georgia. Read threatens to have Equiano whipped and carried throughout the town like a slave.
William Phillips
The captain who replaces Farmer on King’s ships.
Mosa
A friend of Equiano’s, also black, in Gerogia.
Dr. Charles Irving
Equiano’s master (after he gains his freedom) in England, who hires him as a hairdresser.
John Annis
A free black man who is an acquaintance of Equiano’s. Annis is hired as cook on a ship destined for Turkey, but on the way there his former master finds him and forces him off the ship and back into slavery.
Mr. C—
A man in Turkey who is crucial to Equiano’s spiritual awakening.
The Musquito Prince George
A young man who is traveling with Equiano back from England to Jamaica, whom Equiano attempts to instruct in Christianity.
Hughes
A ship owner who treats Equiano cruelly, refusing to accept his status as a free man.
John Baker
Another ship captain who tricks Equiano into joining his ship and also treats him cruelly.
Governor Macnamara
Another of Equiano’s employers, who proposes that he join missionary trip to Africa.