Frederick Douglass: Literary Analysis

Topics: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Abuse Pages: 4 (1247 words) Published: April 28, 2011
“Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass: Literary Analysis” In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass explains, in great detail, how slave master would use a variety of methods to dehumanize slaves located on their plantation. These methods involved both severe physical and psychological trauma. Nevertheless, Douglass remains diligent and finds a way to resist the harsh reality of being a slave. Because of his immovable desire to acquire knowledge to his fighting encounter with Mr. Covey, these experiences help shape Douglass to be the archetype of what it means to go from slavery to freedom. This essay will highlight the physical and psychological tactics used on slaves. In addition, the aspect of how Douglass resists the institution of slavery will be examined, with particular emphasis on his desire to learn. Also, how his own rebellion against Mr. Covey played a key role in his triumphant realization of manhood.

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Douglass recounts both the physical and psychological methods that slave master’s used on slaves. First, the physical trauma will be highlighted. When Douglass is a young boy, he witnesses for the first time a slave getting whipped. It is his Aunt Hester. Douglass hides in a closet, thinking that he would be next. This is Douglass's first encounter with the extreme cruelty of slaveholders. Later, In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, while living in Baltimore, Douglass recalls meeting two young slave women by the name of Henrietta and Mary. It is during this time that Douglass describes the harsh physical treatment of slaves. Referencing Mary, who was about fourteen years old, Douglass writes, “The head, neck, and shoulders were literally cut to pieces. I have frequently felt her head, and found it nearly covered with festering sores caused by the lash of her cruel mistress.” (410) This line provides a glimpse into the physical abuse slaves endured, not only in the Deep South, but...
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