Follow TV Tropes


Film / 12 Years a Slave

Go To
"I will survive. I will not fall into despair!"

Twelve Years a Slave is a title that refers both to the 1853 memoir by abolitionist Solomon Northup and its 2013 film adaptation (with the "twelve" formatted as a number), directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley.

Solomon is a violinist in Saratoga, New York in 1841. He's a loving husband, a devoted father, a respected man of his community — and a free-born black man. One day, two men calling themselves Hamilton and Brown entice Solomon to come with them on a tour of cities and counties further south, where Solomon would play for circuses and concert audiences, and win plenty of money if he only just kept going South. A little further South. And in Washington D.C...

...Solomon wakes up with chains around his ankles and wrists, and is told that his life is no longer his own. He is now "Platt" — nothing but a Georgia runaway slave.

Thus begins twelve years of misery, agony, and punishing work as Platt is sold from master to master, and finds himself traversing the South and experiencing the horrors of slavery firsthand. Still, he desperately holds on to hope that, somehow, he will win his way to freedom and back to his family. But the years drag on...

Upon the original memoir's release, at a time when "bestselling" was defined as two to three thousand copies sold, Solomon's story sold more than thirty thousand copies. It was and is considered a definitive work of the time, both for its accurate, no-holds-barred depiction of slavery, and for shocking the people of the North, who were mostly ignorant of slavery in the South. It was likely a contributing factor to The American Civil War, insofar as it caused serious questions to be raised about the practice of slavery and the treatment of slaves.

McQueen's film adaptation was released in October 2013, starring English actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as protagonist Solomon Northup, with additional cast including breakout star Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson and Brad Pitt.

Tropes found in this work include:

  • Affably Evil: William Ford, whose relation with Northup is about as respectful as that between an owner and slave possibly can be; he expresses sincere admiration for Northup's intellect and does his best to protect Northup from abuse by the more sadistic Tibeats.
  • The Alcoholic: Epps. When he's dangerously, deliriously drunk and in one of his "whipping moods," he'll whip them just for his own amusement.
  • Anti-Climax: Justified as it's more or less how it happened in real life. There was no dramatic escape or revolt. Rather one caring individual who sent a letter to another caring individual who traveled a long distance to prove that Northup is legally a free man.
  • Anti-Villain: William Ford. Compared to Epps, he is a saint — he treats his slaves well and worries about their well being, but is still a slaver and justifies his staying in the business because of the financial ruin he'd face otherwise. The director has said he considers him the worst of the three slavers we see, as he has no illusions that what he's doing isn't evil, but does it anyway. Northup himself tries to defend Ford as being a decent man "under the circumstances". It's Eliza who, for very understandable reasons, doesn't have the highest opinion of Ford.
  • Arch-Enemy: Solomon and Epps form a rivalry of sorts. Epps tries his best to break Solomon and Solomon at one point calls Epps out for the monster that he is.
  • Artistic License – History: Has its own page here.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Epps quotes from passages of the Bible commanding that slaves obey their masters as part of his sermon to them.
  • Ax-Crazy: Edwin Epps. If the making his slaves get up and dance in a parody of a gentleman's ball isn't bad enough, there's his violent episodes. When he gets mad, his slaves just move out of sight as though he's a force of nature.
  • Bad Boss: Epps. Aside from being a slave owner, he just plain loves inflicting needless cruelty on them for his own amusement, and comes close to knifing Solomon when he learns about his ability to write letters.
  • Bait the Dog:
    • When Ford's wife sees Eliza weeping desperately at the loss of her children, she pities her, and says, "Have some food and rest. Your children will soon be forgotten." It doesn't seem to occur to her that slaves might love their children as much as white people. In addition, while she at first seems sympathetic to Eliza's plight (despite not considering that slaves might love their children as much as white people do, as the above point illustrates), she later has Ford sell Eliza because she "makes too much noise," (meaning, she cries over the loss of her children too much for the wife's tastes) which casts some doubt on how genuine her pity was in the first place.
    • Armsby, forced into indentured servitude to repay a debt, promises to mail Solomon's letter after claiming that he went through a Heel Realization having been forced to work the fields. He does it in exchange for Solomon's money. Needless to say, he promptly sells Solomon out.
  • Berserk Button: Patsey is a living one for Mrs. Epps. Also, Epps flies into a whirlwind of rage towards everyone if Patsey isn't where he wants her to be on the Sabbath.
  • Big Bad: Edwin Epps, the horrifically cruel slaver who owns Solomon for the bulk of his enslavement.
  • Big Fancy House: In the film, Epps lives in a big, elegant mansion - the real Epps house is quite small and modest-looking in comparison.
  • Bigot with a Crush: This is actually the situation in the darkest of ways with the Big Bad Edwin Epps towards his slave Patsey. Edwin is a deeply vicious racist and bigoted slave owner who becomes infatuated with and constantly rapes his high-breadwinning slave Patsy, but Word of God is that he actually does love Patsey but his mindset only allows him to express it in violent ways.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Armsby at first seems like a decent enough fellow, tending Solomon's whip marks and making conversation with him as an equal. He also claims to have had a Heel Realization from formerly working as an overseer. This leads Solomon to trust him with secretly getting word to his family up north. The man agrees to do it - and then informs Epps.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Solomon finally manages to get word to his friends in the North via Bass, and they come to rescue him and bring him home to his family - but nonetheless the pain of those lost twelve years still hits hard, and moreover Patsey and millions like her are still enslaved. What's more, without Solomon in her corner it's unlikely Patsey will survive much longernote . The notes at the end of the film reveal that Solomon never got justice against his kidnappers and died under unknown circumstances.
    • His autobiography, along with Uncle Tom's Cabin, almost certainly contributed to the abolitionist movement in the United States, though. So that was a victory of sorts.
  • Born into Slavery: The background of almost all of the slave characters. Eliza, specifically, bore a daughter to her slave master and hoped that he would free her and her two children in return for her services.
  • Break the Cutie: Patsey. She is virtually the personal sex slave of Edwin Epps, and because of that even the Mistress continued to abuse her out of jealousy. Because Epps kept raping her while the Mistress kept abusing her due to the perception as a rival, Patsey has been Driven to Suicide but cannot go through with it. She asked for Solomon to kill her, but he did not comply due to moral reasons. In the end, when Epps went insane, he forced Solomon to whip Patsey, but since Solomon cannot comply with such torture, Epps, clearly driven to insanity, eventually grabbed the whip and flogged her in the most brutal manner.
  • But Not Too Black: Averted. The black skin tones in this movie range from very light to very dark, with Patsey, who is lauded (and hated) for her beauty, having skin nearly ebony-black.
    • The slave trader Freeman refuses to sell Eliza's small daughter to Ford along with Eliza, as "there's piles of money to be made" from pimping her out. She is mixed race and therefore considered more attractive to white johns. She's 8-10 years old.
  • The Cameo: Brad Pitt has two scenes as the heroic Canadian carpenter. Paul Giamatti has two scenes as the evil slave auctioneer.
  • Canada, Eh?: Brad Pitt features as Bass, a Canadian humanist and abolitionist, whose Canadian accent is remarkably nonexistent (of course that's because Pitt isn't Canadian).
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Subverted with Solomon during his trip to Washington. It looks like he had too much wine that night so his two friends have to carry him home. But it turns out that his sickness was a mere reaction to the roofies they slipped him in order to kidnap and sell him into slavery.
  • Casting Gag: Paul Giamatti played an unscrupulous slave trader who cared for nothing but money. In Planet of the Apes (2001), he played a simian "orangutan" human slave trader with similar traits.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Parker, a shopkeeper Solomon used to interact with before his kidnapping, is shown early in the film in a flashback. He ends up being the man to identify Solomon to free him.
  • Clear My Name: Solomon's goal. His two best options are very risky: write a letter to his friends up North, while keeping it hidden from his masters that he can read and write, or trust someone else to go and write a letter, and risk that this person will rat him out or simply not follow up for fear of breaking the law. The first option ended in failure as the person he trusted his money to, a former overseer named Armsby, ratted him out and revealed his ability to write to Epps. The second option succeeded with Samuel Bass, who writes and delivers the letter with the intended results.
  • Composite Character: A very minor case. Epps didn't give the sermon from the Gospel of Luke that he makes in his first scene; it was given by a slaver called Tanner, who was Ford's brother-in-law. Ford sent Northup to stay with Tanner for a night after Tibeats hung him for his recovery and safety.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: We see slaves on the Epps' plantation quietly working together as the screams of fellow slaves being whipped fills the air. But they aren't accepting of it, so much as they know that the first move they make to help will have them under the lash themselves.
    • Exemplified by the scene where Solomon spends hours on his tip toes to avoid hanging while the rest of the slaves go about their daily business around him as if he weren't there. Slave owners had likely done so their entire lives, as had generations before them. Even the Fords, who were not cruel to their slaves, clearly saw them as nothing more than property. This is lampshaded by Eliza when she tells Solomon that he views him as he would a prized steer.
  • Corporal Punishment: Tibeats attempts to have Solomon hanged for daring to strike him. Master Epps' plantation frequently sees the use of a whip.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster implies that Solomon will attempt to escape. Yet that never happens. He just patiently waits for his chance.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Epps is a horrific example. Word of God says he's genuinely deeply in love with Patsey (at least in his own mind), but he has an odd way of showing it. Of course it's all the easier to be "clingy" when you legally own the girl...
  • Dead Guy Junior: After Solomon is freed, he returns to discover that his daughter is married and Solomon now has a grandson who is named after him.
  • Deep South: Solomon moves from one plantation to another in the humid and muggy Southern States, spending time in New Orleans, Alabama, and the Red River area.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Aside from the obvious racism of the time, Patsey suffers mistreatment from Mrs. Epps despite Edwin being the instigator of the affair that she wants no part of. This seems really insane, but at the time, women were often blamed for their rape because they tempted other men.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Eliza crosses it after she's separated from her children. Patsey seems to have already crossed it when we first see her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Northup didn't tell his wife where he was going after agreeing to becoming an entertainer. Granted he wasn't expecting to get kidnapped, but it still would have been sensible in case something went wrong. If he had done that, it's probable he would have been freed from slavery much earlier.
  • Dirty Coward: Tibeats, who flaunts his authority around the slaves, especially on Solomon, but immediately backs away when beaten back or caught trying to kill any slave by his higher-ups.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The manner in which Solomon is kidnapped is eerily reminiscent of how modern human trafficking works. He is lured into an unsafe situation with the false promises of a job, falls unconscious after his drink is drugged, wakes up to find himself in bondage in an isolated place with no idea where he is, is hidden on a cart under the cover of darkness, and smuggled onto a ship to be sold into slavery. Furthermore, while slavery was legal in much of the United States, what happened to Solomon was illegal even in 1841—not that any of the men who buy or sell him care. No doubt little has changed...
    • This is very disturbing to write, but then again it's a very disturbing film. The way Clemens reacts when he is "rescued" by his master is eerily similar to the way a lost dog reacts when found at a shelter. Just to demonstrate what a screwed up movie it is one could argue the genuine care his master showed for him was actually heartwarming. Stockholm Syndrome existed then too, naturally.
    • Mrs. Ford's "your children will soon be forgotten" line. It was gut-wrenching to Eliza and the audience. But in her mind it was likely a legitimate attempt to be compassionate as she had likely seen, from her point of view, many slave women before get over the loss of their children. Anyone who's ever been on, or near, a farm knows that when animals are separated from their offspring they will make a lot of noise for about 24 hours and are then quiet again. This of course doesn't necessarily mean they've gotten over it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Patsey at one point tries to pay Solomon to drown her, because she can't bear her horrible life any longer. Solomon doesn't go through with it, and Patsey survives to the end of the movie, though whether she'll live past the movie's events or pay someone else to drown her instead is an open question...
    • Note that this is an invention of the movie: in real life it was Mrs. Epps who tried to bribe Solomon into drowning Patsey.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Not that the ending is by any means completely happy, but the pure hell Solomon goes through for twelve years makes that reunion with his family that much more of joyous relief.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: In what might be the most intense scene in the movie, Solomon is forced to whip Patsey. She opens her mouth to moan with pain, and exposes oddly white, even teeth.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ford while a slaveowner, is slightly more humane than others. He is horrified and disgusted when the man who sold him a slave cons him out of buying the slave's children as well just to earn more money - by pimping her out. She is a child. He also doesn't like overseers who are utter sadists.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Epps, in addition to being an unhinged sadist, also chews up the scenery like there's no tomorrow. However, unlike most examples in which it is done in an amusing manner, his hamminess is on display to show how completely evil and deranged he is.
  • Facecam: On Northup as he leaves the Epps plantation for the last time, his face in tight closeup on the screen while the plantation, and Patsey who sobs with grief as her friend leaves, fade into the background.
  • Fan Disservice: Although slaves are seen naked in the film (most harrowingly, the scene where Epps flogs Patsey), it's not played up for titillation in the slightest.
  • Fate Worse than Death: After Robert (Michael K. Williams's character) is killed en route, another slave essentially tells Solomon that he's the lucky one.
  • Foil: Solomon and Epps could be no more different from one another.
    • Solomon is an educated, cultured, and well-spoken man who try to treat others with decency and who tries to give genuine love or friendship to Patsey.
    • Epps is a sadistic slob with zero conscience, compassion, or civility within him. He treats Patsey as his own personal plaything.
  • Foregone Conclusion: We know from the get-go that Solomon's ordeal in slavery is gonna last twelve years.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mrs. Epps in relation to Patsey. Solomon even name-checks it in his memoir.
  • Hanging Around: Used to dramatic effect in the film's signature scene, in which Solomon is hanged by Tibeats for attempting to strike him. Solomon spends hours on his tiptoes to lessen the burden of the rope on his neck to avoid death as everyone else around him continues about their daily routines, paying him no mind.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Clemens seems quite happy to see his master Jonus when he comes to get him, and even smiles and comforts him when the former runs into his arms. However, despite how benevolent he may be, Jonus is still a slave owner, and makes a point of calling Clemens his "property."
  • Historical Beauty Update: In Real Life the abducted black man Robert was not murdered by a rapist-sailor; he died from smallpox. Northup contracted it too and survived, but from then on his face was permanently scarred.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Ford is portrayed as more of a hypocrite here than in the book, and is shown to be somewhat troubled by slavery but to go on being a slaver anyway; in the book, Northup has nothing but praise for him and says that he was totally blind and innocent to the evils of slavery due to his cultural upbringing. Also, he actually sold Northup to Tibeats, so protecting him was more charitable than presented (he's not protecting his own property - except technically, since Tibeats was slow on payment) and it was Tibeats who sold Northup to Epps.
    • The overseer who saves Northup's life is portrayed as a more merciful man in the book as well.
    • In addition, there was no rapist-sailor on board the barge. In fact, one of the sailors actually helped Northup and posted a letter to his family telling them he had been kidnapped.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Tibeats, Epps and Mrs. Epps were all worse in real life if you can believe that to be possible. See ArtisticLicenseHistory.Twelve Years A Slave.
  • Hope Spot: Played straight the first time Solomon tries to pay a white hired hand to write a letter to his friends and family. The hired hand rats him out to the master, but Solomon manages to convincingly lie and call the white hired hand a liar, thus saving himself from punishment.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with a scene at the sugar cane field and then uses an extended flashback to show how Solomon ended up there.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Patsey cannot bring herself to commit suicide and asks Solomon to help kill her, he adamantly refuses because he believes he will commit a sin. Patsey then points out that what he will be doing is an act of mercy and since God is a god of mercy, then He will forgive him.
  • Implausible Deniability: Epps pulls this. He is seen chasing Solomon in a jealous rage over him "being in conversation" with Patsey, only to blatantly deny even speaking to Solomon that day when Mrs. Epps shows up asking what's going on.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: An incredibly gut-wrenching example occurs when Solomon is first held captive in Burch's dungeon. As he tries futilely crying out for help from the single barred window, the camera then scales up the building until it rests at the top, where the US Capitol Building can be seen in the background...
  • Karma Houdini: With the exception of Tibeats, no bad character is ever brought to account for anything. Even the worst actions of the slave owners are protected by law, and the people who abducted and sold Solomon were never convicted.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The first half of the movie can be painful enough to sit through. Within minutes of meeting Edwin Epps, those things will pale in comparison, on account of his sheer brutality and insanity.
  • Lead You Can Relate To: Solomon, the cultured, educated freeborn man shares a lot more in common with his audience than the illiterate born slaves that he falls in with. Probably even truer for the original book. Abolitionists tended to promote the stories of the most educated and intelligent slaves to accentuate the horror for their white audiences.
  • Leave the Camera Running: One where after being rescued from being hung by Tibeats, Solomon has to wait with the noose around his neck and his toes on the ground for Ford to come back. The camera stays on him, forcing the audience to take in this uncomfortable situation the way the slaves were forced to do it.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: When introducing the new slaves to their work, Tibeats makes them clap as he sings "Run, Nigger, Run", a song that is reminiscent of African-American folk music but is actually a warning to slaves contemplating running away.
  • Made a Slave: The premise of the film. At Solomon's auction, he is made to play the fiddle constantly to prove that he has a fine skill that his future masters might exploit.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • Eliza and her master, by her daughter-in-law, who re-sells them as soon as her father is dead.
    • The Shaws. Mr. Shaw married his kept slave after the death of his wife, and now Mrs. Shaw invites slaves from other plantations over to tea, which scandalizes the neighbors.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Often when action happens in the foreground you can see the slaves in the background reacting to the situation by shooing the children away or trying to concentrate on what they are doing so as to not get involved. They are quite the aversion to Ghost Extras.
  • Mixed Ancestry is Attractive: One of the many horrifying reasons why the slave auctioneer refuses to sell Eliza's daughter to Ford, due to her being "a light-skinned beauty" and he could profit from the money she'll make.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Mrs. Epps getting mad over Edwin's affairs with Patsey. Understandable. Attacking Patsey, a woman who clearly doesn't want to be in the affair. Jesus lady!
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) appears - it didn't reach the U.S. until 1884.
  • Modest Orgasm: In the opening, the female slave who seduces Solomon for comfort lets out a few quiet gasps and then breaks down crying. It's quite depressing given their situation.
  • The Mole: Bass, a white Canadian worker on Epps's estate who ends up playing a crucial role in freeing Solomon.
  • Moral Myopia: Discussed.
    Bass: The law says you have the right [to hold slaves]…but begging the law's pardon, it lies. Is everything right because the law allows it? Suppose they'd pass a law taking away your liberty and making you a slave?
    Epps: Ha!
  • Nice Guy:
    • Samuel Bass and Mr. Parker, two personable white men who help Northrup when he's in need.
    • Solomon himself is a warm and friendly man. Unfortunately, his trusting nature gets him sold into slavery.
  • Noble Bigot: Solomon views Ford as this. He believes that because he's a Nice Guy, he's simply a slaver under circumstance. Ends up getting deconstructed because a Noble Bigot is still a bigot; while Ford may be nice, he still simply sees slaves as property and end up selling Solomon to an even crueler slaver to get out of debt.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: The sheriff at the end comes across as this. He addresses the slaves as "boy", just like any other white Southerner, but also insists that Solomon be released once he is sure who he really is.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The slave seller's name is "Freeman". He may be a free man, but he doesn't free them.
  • Obliviously Evil: An argument could be made for Epps, since he's obviously unhinged and too nose deep in Insane Troll Logic to really see what a monster he is.
  • The Oner: A Creator Thumbprint of director Steve McQueen (director).
    • The scene where Solomon is beaten by Burch (first by paddle, then by whip once the paddle breaks) is captured in a single, 87-second take.
    • The scene where Ford buys Solomon and Eliza runs for over three minutes.
    • The absolutely horrific scene where Epps confronts a terrified Patsy for leaving the plantation, has her stripped and bound to a pole, forces Solomon to begin lashing her, and then finishes the lashing himself is all done in a single, four-minute take.
  • Only Friend: Solomon is the only shining light in Patsey's pathetic and miserable life.
  • Only Sane Man: Bass, who's literally the only white person Solomon meets in the South who despises slavery and recognizes it for what it really is (probably has a lot to do with him being Canadian, where slavery was abolished in 1834, thirty-one years sooner than in the United States, and it had never been as common).
  • Pet the Dog: Master Ford has several of these moments. He tries to buy Eliza's daughter before learning that the price is too high. He treats Solomon well and appreciates his talents and he seems prepared to defend Solomon's life against an attack by Tibeats. At one point he even gives Solomon a violin as a reward for how hard he works.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Epps, who throws ridiculously bad tantrums and revels in debasing others for his own amusement.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Fords, who are perfectly nice people except for the fact that they willingly participate in the slave trade and ignore all opportunities to realize its horrors.
  • Scenery Porn: Steve McQueen and Sean Bobbit took inspiration from the painter Francisco de Goya, known for depicting horrific events in beautiful places.
  • Sex for Solace: The film opens with a variation of this. Unable to sleep, Solomon finds another woman lying next to him in the slave quarters. She forcibly kisses him, then places his hand on her breast and genitals. It's a very sad and depressing scene, as it's clear there is no passion in what is happening and Solomon doesn't move a muscle either to reciprocate or to pull away. It's all just a brief escape from the hell she has to live in, born out of sheer desperation for human contact and a need to feel alive. When it's all over, she turns away from Solomon and cries.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: It's unclear whether it's his adultery itself that Epps is ashamed of, or the fact that it's a black woman he lusts after (or both), but it's clear that he doesn't like it and he takes it out on Patsey.
  • Sex in a Shared Room: Solomon and a female slave have pity sex to temporarily escape their pain. Albeit in a room crowded with many sleeping slaves so they have to do it quietly.
  • Sex Slave:
  • Shameful Strip: The slaves in the Washington, D.C. prison are forced to bathe naked, and there is one room of slaves in the New Orleans auction house where the people up for auction are completely naked. Later in the film, Epps has Patsy stripped naked right before she is publicly, brutally whipped.
  • Stupid Evil: The slave owners, especially Epps, has no qualms about beating their workforce half to death or even hanging them, despite their value. In the 1850s a good field slave usually sold for $1,000 (about $30,000 in 2014 currency), while Epps bought Solomon (as "Platt") for $1,500. For a rather poor Deep South farmer, this was a small fortune. It would have been expected they might treat their slaves better, if only to get them more productive in the fields.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Patsey. She's not only beautiful, but she's extremely good at picking cotton, which seems to be another reason why Master Epps lusts after her, ruining her life with his abuse and possessiveness, and the savage jealousy of his wife.
  • Subpar Supremacist: The most racist characters in the movie are usually the most degenerate.
    • Tibeats is a nasty little bully who picks on slaves, but the second anyone fights back, he whimpers and cowers.
    • Epps is the most openly white supremacist character and is an unhinged maniac with zero self-control.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Ford, at the very least, does reward his slaves for hard work and isn't needlessly cruel. Solomon in the book especially saw him as a decent person twisted by a corrupt society.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Frequently. And shown in graphic detail. And the scars of said whippings are also shown. In equally graphic detail. Master Epps has any slave whipped who picks less than 200 pounds of cotton in one day, and quotes the Bible to justify his actions.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Solomon goes through 12 years of sheer hell. Patsey herself has it even worse.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Epps succumbs to hysterical fury when Patsey is unaccounted for on the Sabbath. He is so furious that she went somewhere without his knowledge or permission that he has her whipped on the spot. His fury is also great, but not quite as destructive when Solomon is freed from him forever.
  • White Man's Burden: Solomon is ultimately saved by a white, anti-slavery carpenter played by Brad Pitt. The film received some criticism for having the protagonist simply get rescued by a white savior rather than escape by his own devices and ingenuity, but this is what the real Solomon said happened.
  • Woman Scorned: Mistress Epps, who unleashes her jealous rage upon Patsey at every single opportunity thanks to her husband's depraved lust.
  • Yandere:
    • Epps, towards Patsey. Most of his more violent actions seem to be centered around her.
    • Mistress Epps too, although for...different reasons. Seriously, the things she does to that poor woman!