Epistle from Yarico Textual Analysis- Jaeyoon Lee

Nobody wants to be betrayed. But it’s inevitable; sometimes, we fall for the wrong people and they leave us shattered and empty. The story of Inkle and Yarico illustrates the tragedy, mixed in with the historical forces of colonialism, slave trade, and the layered interaction between the Old World of the Western Civilization and the New World Americas. The specific document, “Epistle from Yarico” that I transcribed and analyzed is an extension of the story and illustrates the perspective from Yarico after she is betrayed and sold into slavery by Inkle despite their love-driven promise and relationship. It’s a combination of a poem and an epistle, conveying the depths of Yarico as a character. Here, we can see the story through the personal lens of Yarico. Written by Edward Moore in 1736, I found this piece both important and compelling because it conveys an idea value that makes literature and reading so important: empathy. We have to relate and understand where Yarico is coming from, despite not knowing the full context of what it means to be a slave or betrayed in the matter she experienced. We have to place ourselves in her shoe.

How can we reimagine the story through this story from Yarico’s perspective… and what does it all really mean in the end?

The first step to better understanding the research question was to analyze the text through the WordCounter tool. It examined the document, searching for the words and phrases most used by Yarico. Because this was an epistle, where Yarico is directly communicating to Inkle, the use of names is not as recurrent as second-person pronouns. Words, such as “thou”, were used to refer to Inkle and this highlights the pros of an epistle where you can be direct with a character and properly illustrate how you feel and what you’re thinking to them. In short, for a relational setting, the use of the epistle is one of the more effective, direct ways to do so. What’s interesting to note is the common words used: “love”, “care”, and “dear”. All three words illustrate the circumstance of who they used to be before Inkle’s betrayal. Was Moore writing Yarico as a helpless slave begging him to be back? Was she saying that she has forgiven him? Based on the first glance of the WordCounter, we are able to see what kinds of words were used without understanding how. Direct and emotionally-charged, we can see that this epistle is dramatized. But in what way? What was Moore’s intention by conveying the intensity of betrayal through the epistle?

The next analysis was done through the Word Tree, where we can see the context of how these important words were used. To say that “love” was a dominant word throughout the story was a partial diagnosis. While it is certainly true that she did love him before and that made it painful, something more interesting is seen through the Word Tree. One of the other recurring words mixed with “love” is “think”. In fact, “think”, “O”, and “!” are also common recurrence through the poem. What’s important here is that the use of both “love” and “think” fully captures the emotional intensity and reason from Yarico that isn’t quite there from the original documents we read before. We see emotional intensity through words like “O” or “!”. But that’s not all: the use of “love” and “think” are used in a way to argue against Inkle’s decision, asking him did their relationship from the past or promise not to mean anything. Here, we can see the rhetoric from Yarico. She wasn’t asking him to be back or reminiscing their past together. She was saying that he was in the wrong. He was guilty. If he ever had consciousness or valued loyalty, justice, and fairness, then he would know as well. This was an argument of outrage and grief. It was everything that made Yarico a person, instead of a caricature.


So, why am I surprised by this? The document is striking to me because of the historical context of the time. What did it take for the colonialists to reimagine the story of Inkle and Yarico from the perspective of the Native Americans? What will it take to realize the history from their side? There is still much to explore and questions to ask: how did we depict the Native American’s at the time? Did the Western colonialists understand the consequence of their actions? Is this story meant as a warning? When we reimagine the story of Yarico, we can see it from being in their shoe, trying to understand who they are. This idea of empathy was important to me as I analyzed the document and it’s something that requires to be asked again and again as I explore the documents through the textual web-based analysis.