Event—Scholarly Seminars

Marcy Dinius, DePaul University


“Some bold or indelicate expression”: Reading the Asterisks in Benito Cereno, Marcy Dinius

This essay focuses on the deposition section near the conclusion of Herman Melville's Benito Cereno to look closely at how the triple asterisks throughout the text function. In closely reading the text on its own and in comparison to Melville's source text, it becomes apparent that with nearly every usage of the ***, Melville presents the Spanish enslavers’ racist assumptions about blacks’ docility and loyalty outweighing their desire for freedom; clear examples of black capacity for rationality, complex plotting, and deception; and graphic descriptions of the revolting slaves’ weapons and acts of violence.