Compare and Contrast the Representation of the Figure of the Slave, and of the Theme of Freedom, in Douglass’s “Narrative” and Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

Topics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Slavery, Slavery in the United States Pages: 4 (1445 words) Published: May 4, 2011
Compare and contrast the representation of the figure of the slave, and of the theme of freedom, in Douglass’s “Narrative” and Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

The two novels that I am studying are “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, and “The Narrative of Frederick Douglass – Written by Himself”. Both these texts give us an insight into the life of slavery and the societal beliefs of the South in America in the nineteenth century. The theme of freedom and the figure of the slave are two common aspects of the book that I shall be looking at. Frederick Douglass’ text gives us a first person account of life as a slave and in Huck Finn we get an account of a slave’s life through the eyes of a young southern boy. Both leave us with interesting comparisons and contrasts which I will also explore in this essay. Twain and Douglass leave us with much food for thought in these novels and while one may have published for political reasons and the other for entertainment, they are both entertaining and politically challenging. In the south around the time of these writings slavery is a taboo subject. Douglass writes in a time when slavery is common in the south while Twain writes in a time of “second slavery” where slavery is officially abolished in the south but racism and discrimination is common. Both had different impacts on the public at the time and both have often different impacts on us the readers.

There are some comparisons in the figure of the slave in both novels. In Douglass’ narrative he gives us an account of the cruelty slaves were experiencing – “the louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest.” (chapter 1). In this text Douglass tries to gain sympathy for the slave and although the text is factual and a true story, he shapes that story so that he can get across the point he desires. We also see how the identity of the slave is taken away, and the slave is seen as less...
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