Frederick Douglass Motif of Animals

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Michaela Barney

Mr. Ried

AP English

21 October 2011

Douglass: Motif of Animals

In today’s society, almost all people are seen the same way, people have faults about them and have different traits, but all are considered human, men and woman are able to hold the same positions and jobs, and people of all races are able to live together in society. Frederick Douglass was born, and raised, a slave in the 1800s; life was very different, African Americans and white Americans were not seen as equals. As a young boy, Douglass was sent to Baltimore where he learned to read and write. By learning to read and write, Douglass knew the difference between slavery and freedom was literacy. After this crucial time in his life, Douglass was determined to become a free man, no matter what it took. Douglass successfully escaped from the reigns of slavery in his 20s and became a renowned abolitionist speaker and writer. Frederick Douglass compares multiple aspects of slavery to animals. Douglass’ first-hand experience with slavery made him able to describe slave life and treatment through comparisons to animals. Frederick Douglass utilizes the motif of animals in order to shed light on the life of slaves and the dehumanizing effects of slavery.

Douglass experienced the dehumanizing effects of slavery first-hand when he moved to Baltimore to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld. Initially, Douglass uses similes to compare Ms. Auld to humble and pleasant things, “Her face was made with heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music,” (40). Later, Douglass uses a simile comparing her to animals, “[Her] lamb-like disposition gave away to one of tiger-like fierceness,” (43). His use of similes contrasts her personality and aura before and after she owned a slave. Ms. Auld is not the only slave owner that Douglass relates to an animal. Douglass metaphorically relates his most cruel master, Mr. Covey, to a snake. Mr. Covey had snake-like tendencies, “He was...
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