No Man's Property by James Brosnahan | Script Revolution

No Man's Property

Enslaved nurse must rely upon her faith, medical knowledge and cunning to escape her abusive enslaver. Inspired by the true story of Harriet Jacobs.

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Page Count: 
104pp

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Based On: 
Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (public domain) - Inspired by
Synopsis/Details: 

“No Man’s Property” is inspired by Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and is written along the lines of stories such as “Underground Railroad.” While there are other films about this era that follow the journey of an enslaved person's battle for freedom, too many "render Black people as merely Black bodies onto which the sins of this ragged country are violently mapped" (A.J. Bastien, 2020). By contrast, Linda, the Black protagonist in this screenplay, is far more dynamic and greater than the suffering forced on her. Instead of reaffirming the violence that everyone correlates this topic with, this story highlights the inner strength and life of Linda poignantly.

Linda is a 19-year-old Black woman who is enslaved by Dr. Flint and his wife Mrs. Flint. Her childhood friend Nate, a 21-year-old Black man was born to a freed Black woman and is thereby free himself, and works as a carpenter. He is determined to buy Linda's freedom so that they can marry. As he works to earn enough money to do so Linda is forced to live under the oppressive thumb of Dr. Flint. While he allows her to read his medical books and help him tend to patients, he often uses this "freedom" to take advantage of her. As she tries to flit around his increasingly perverse sexual advances, his wife becomes increasingly jealous and wishes Linda gone. But Dr. Flint refuses to let her go. Meanwhile, Linda uses her medical knowledge to save a young boy from Dr. Flint's attempts to cut his leg off. This boy turns out to be the son of a local farmer. She then helps to save a little girl named Kate, who is the daughter of Matthew, a slave hunter. As Dr. Flint's drunkenness affects his ability to help anyone, Linda proves her superior skills and knowledge gaining her some kind of respect among the townsfolk.

When Nate returns with enough money to buy her freedom Dr. Flint refuses and threatens to kill him on sight. Desperate to get out, and afraid of how much worse it will get, Linda tries to get Mrs. Flint to help her convince Dr. Flint to sell her to Nate. But the doctor still refuses. So, Linda devises a plan with Nate to run away. As she finds herself facing increasingly difficult obstacles on her journey to freedom, the people who she helped with her medical knowledge before come to her aid. The farmer helps her get to Nate in Savannah, Mrs. Corbin repays her for saving her son Sam by hiding her away and helping her to freedom. In end, even the slave hunter whose daughter she saves, and who Dr. Flint paid to bring Linda back, decides to save Linda instead. Dr. Flint, on his way to look for Linda in New York, dies when the ship he's on capsizes. Linda and Nate get married, and Mrs. Corbin buys Linda's freedom from Mrs. Flint and leaves her home in Savannah for the two of them to look after. In exchange, she offers to pay them enough to buy their own home one day.

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WeScreenplay CONSIDER rating.

Submitted: July 26, 2021
Last Updated: September 4, 2021

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The Writer: James Brosnahan

I am a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, a published playwright and produced screenwriter. My plays have been produced across the US and Europe. My screenplays have earned awards at several film festivals. I teach writing for film and stage at the high school level as well as writing for change leaders in the business world. I grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from the University of Dayton and live in Ohio with my wife and a son with Down syndrome who keeps alive a sense of wonder in the family. I am willing to modify my screenplays to fit budget, talent and location. I hope you enjoy my work. Happy filmmaking! Go to bio

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