Study Guide

Black Beauty Suffering

By Anna Sewell


Life as a horse isn't easy. Life as a horse in Victorian England? Really not easy. With hardship and horror waiting around the corner every time you're sold to a new master, it's hard to ever feel secure about your future. Not to mention, the tasks given to working horses can be strenuous, uncomfortable, and never-ending. And Black Beauty doesn't sugarcoat any of it. The stark reality of what many horses endured in Victorian times comes to life with Anna Sewell's candid descriptions of suffering and pain.

Questions About Suffering

  1. In the first half of this book, Beauty rarely suffers; he has a very happy and comfortable life. Then, in the second half, everything changes. How does Beauty's suffering affect him? How does it affect the reader?
  2. What does Anna Sewell hope to achieve by including so much misfortune and suffering in her book? Does she succeed?
  3. Many of the horses in this book are forced to suffer in different ways. How do they all cope with it? How does Ginger handle it? What about Captain?
  4. Humans suffer in this book right alongside the horses. What kind of suffering do they endure? What does it say about life during this time period?

Chew on This

Black Beauty shows us that everyone suffers, animals and humans alike, but the important thing is how you cope with it.

Much of the pain and suffering in this story is caused by ignorant humans. By describing all the ways that innocent animals suffer due to ignorance, Sewell shows that ignorance is just as evil as evil itself.

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