12 Years a Slave

by

Solomon Northrup

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Mistress Epps Character Analysis

Mistress Epps is the wife of Edwin Epps, and the mother of at least two children (though the only one who appears in the narrative is Young Master Epps). Although she is presented as being polite to the slaves (she even cries when Solomon is rescued because she’ll miss his talent for the fiddle), Mistress Epps fosters a wicked hatred for Patsey due to jealousy, since Patsey is beautiful and is the helpless object of Edwin Epps’ sexual abuse. For these reasons, Mistress Epps frequently convinces Epps to beat and whip the slave girl.

Mistress Epps Quotes in 12 Years a Slave

The 12 Years a Slave quotes below are all either spoken by Mistress Epps or refer to Mistress Epps. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Graymalkin Media edition of 12 Years a Slave published in 2014.
Chapter 13 Quotes

[…] it had fallen to her lot to be the slave of a licentious master and a jealous mistress. She shrank before the lustful eye of one, and was in danger even of her life at the hands of the other, and in between the two, she was indeed accursed.

Related Characters: Solomon Northup (speaker), Edwin Epps, Patsey, Mistress Epps
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mistress Epps Character Timeline in 12 Years a Slave

The timeline below shows where the character Mistress Epps appears in 12 Years a Slave. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
...to dance while Solomon plays the fiddle. Those who dance too slow are whipped. Sometimes Mistress Epps chastises Epps for this, but other times she laughs at “his uproarious pranks.” (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...master and a jealous mistress.” Epps frequently rapes Patsey, earning her even greater punishment from Mistress Epps , who loves to see Patsey suffer. (full context)
Chapter 14
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...tells Solomon that now, when Epps comes home drunk, he will whip Patsey severely, to Mistress Epps ’ delight, “for an offence of which he himself was the sole and irresistible cause.”... (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Solomon tells the reader that Mistress Epps is “possessed of the devil, jealousy,” when it comes to Patsey, but that she has... (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...him too, challenging him to what would be a deadly duel. At the request of Mistress Epps , Epps declines. Solomon notes that, today, Epps and Marshall are intimate friends again. Reflecting... (full context)
Chapter 16
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Mistress Epps watches the “half-serious, half-comical maneuvers” from the distance, and Solomon runs to her for protection... (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...family. Nine years into Solomon’s slavery, he finally obtains a single piece of paper when Mistress Epps sends Solomon into town to buy several things, including a stack of paper. Solomon steals... (full context)
Chapter 18
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...tells Phebe that he hopes O’Niel will buy him, but their conversation is overheard by Mistress Epps , and quickly relayed to Epps. Solomon tells the reader that “nothing will more violently... (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...mistake while spreading cotton. The wound, though not fatal, had to be sewed up by Mistress Epps , who severely reprimanded her husband for his “inhumanity.” (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...shortly, explaining that she was visiting her friend Harriet Shaw to get some soap, since Mistress Epps doesn’t give her soap (though she gives it to all the other slaves). Thinking that... (full context)
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...thick whip, Epps commands Solomon to whip Patsey, and Solomon is forced to oblige. Meanwhile, Mistress Epps “gazes” on the “demoniac exhibition” looking pleased and pitiless. After forty strikes, Solomon refuses to... (full context)
Chapter 21
Racism and Slavery Theme Icon
Truth and Justice Theme Icon
...would have hid Solomon out in the swamp so that he couldn’t be found. Meanwhile, Mistress Epps says a tearful goodbye, regretful to be losing such a talented fiddle player. The following... (full context)