Caitlin Dove Dove 1 Mrs. Rinker
A.P English 11
Sophia Auld is one of the few characters, apart from Douglass himself, who changes throughout the course of the Narrative. Specifically, Sophia is transformed from a kind, caring woman who owns no slaves to an excessively cruel slave owner. “My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door,--a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings. ……. But asls! This kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage: that voice, made all of sweet accord changed to one harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon” (Chapter 6 Pg. 19) On the one hand, she appears more realistic and humane than other characters because we see her character in process. On the other hand, Sophia comes to resemble less a character than an illustration of Douglass’s argument about slavery. Douglass uses the instance of Sophia’s transformation from kind to cruel as a message about the negative effects of slavery on slaveholders. Sophia also seems less realistic as a character because Douglass’s descriptions of her are rhetorically dramatic rather than realistic. Douglass’s initial description of Sophia idealizes her kind features, and his description of her character post-transformation equally dramatizes her demonic qualities. Sophia’s gender affects her characterization in the Narrative. To nineteenth-century readers, it would have seemed natural for Sophia, as a female, to be sympathetic and loving Consequently, it would have appeared all the more unnatural and undesirable for her to be transformed into an evil slave...
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