Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

by

Harriet Jacobs

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl can help.

First Mistress Character Analysis

The unnamed mistress of Mother and, during her early years, Linda. Mother and the mistress have an unusually close relationship, and at her deathbed the mistress promises to take care of her children. She takes the young girl under her wing, teaches her about religion, and treats her so kindly that Linda says she doesn’t even realize she’s a slave. However, on her death she doesn’t free the girl but leaves her to the Flints, plunging her into a decade of trouble. The mistress’s pious and kindly attitude contrasts with her actual behavior, and Linda uses this character to point out that people who make an outward show of religiosity often lack the moral strength that should come with such devotion.

First Mistress Quotes in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl quotes below are all either spoken by First Mistress or refer to First Mistress. 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:
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl published in 2001.
Chapter 1 Quotes

My mistress had taught me the precepts of God’s Word: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” But I was her slave, and I suppose she did not recognize me as her neighbor.

Related Characters: Harriet Jacobs / Linda Brent (speaker), First Mistress
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl LitChart as a printable PDF.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl PDF

First Mistress Character Timeline in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

The timeline below shows where the character First Mistress appears in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: Childhood
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
When Linda is six, her mother dies. Her mother’s mistress – the daughter of Grandmother’s mistress – has always been kind to her, and promises... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
When Linda is twelve, the mistress dies. Linda is old enough to worry about what will happen to her, and her... (full context)
The Dehumanizing Effects of Slavery Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
In her will, the mistress gives Linda to her five-year-old niece, Emily Flint. The family’s hopes are dashed, and it’s... (full context)