Preview

Frederick Douglass Narrative Analysis

Powerful Essays
Open Document
Open Document
1517 Words
Grammar
Grammar
Plagiarism
Plagiarism
Writing
Writing
Score
Score
Frederick Douglass Narrative Analysis
From the beginnings of America in 1619 to 1865 the institution of slavery has had a detrimental effect on the humanization of both black and white individuals. In his narrative, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, author Frederick Douglass explores not only his experience with this abhorrent establishment that was slavery, but the personal anecdotes of others that, combined, strengthen his overall argument that the institution of slavery has been dehumanizing for not only blacks, but whites as well. The dictionary definition of “dehumanize” is to “to deprive [an individual] of human qualities, personality, or spirit”. Working with this definition, it is immediately clear how the institution of slavery has been dehumanizing …show more content…
A human being’s natural instinct is to preserve, protect, and nurture human life. However, by being given such an unnatural power over another human being, whites themselves make themselves less human. Stripping another human being of their basic rights and setting aside their own instincts and feelings of what is right and wrong changes the quality of that person to something completely unnatural and inhuman. An example of this change of white slave owners’ character is demonstrated by Douglass when he says “Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master” (Douglass 78). The kind mistress, Sophia Auld, had been teaching Douglass how to read. However, when her husband, Hugh Auld, learns of this, he immediately instructs Sophia to cease her educating of Douglass under the guise that education would ruin a slave for slavery. As Sophia, and individual who has never known slavery or the powers associated with slavery, it is interesting to see how she changes, from a natural human being to a sentient being with no human qualities whatsoever. Sophia becomes a cruel slave owner regarding Douglass as nothing more than completely inferior to

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Better Essays

    Slavery, the dark beast that consumes, devours, and pillages the souls of those who are forced to within its bounds and those who think they are the powerful controllers of this filth they call business. This act is the pinnacle of human ignorance, they use it as the building blocks for their “trade,” and treat these people no more than replaceable property that can be bought, sold, and beaten on a whim. The narrative of Frederick Douglass is a tale about a boy who is coming of age in a world that does not accept him for who he is and it is also told as a horror that depicts what we can only imagine as the tragedies placed on these people in these institutions of slavery. It is understood as a chronicle of his life telling us his story from childhood to manhood and all that is in between, whilst all this is going on he vividly mixes pathological appeals to make us feel for him and all his brethren that share his burden. His narrative is a map from slavery to freedom where he, in the beginning, was a slave of both body and mind. But as the story progresses we see his transformation to becoming a free man both of the law and of the mind. He focuses on emotion and the building up of his character to show us what he over time has become. This primarily serves to make the reader want to follow his cause all the more because of his elegant and intelligent style of mixing appeals. Through his effective use of anecdotes and vivid imagery he shows us his different epiphanies over time, and creates appeals to his character by showing us how he as a person has matured, and his reader’s emotion giving us the ability to feel for his situation in a more real sense. This helps argue that the institution of slavery is a parasitic bug that infects the slave holder with a false sense of power and weakens the slave in both body and spirit.…

    • 1321 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In Peter Ripley’s essay “The Autobiographical Writings of Frederick Douglass,” he states that, “The Narrative signaled Douglass’ emergence as a committed abolitionist and suggests his developing intellectual skills during those early years of freedom” (135). Ripley describes throughout his essay how Douglass started as a slave, fought for his freedom, became an average lecturer, and in the end became, “Ambitious and intellectually curious… reading reform literature, participating in discussions and absorbing the lectures of his associates” (136). Ripley describes Douglass’ early lectures as unintellectual because of how long he had been a slave, using “plantation dialect” (136). Early on, Douglass got the image that he wasn’t an actual slave. So, he started to write about his slave experiences, giving names and dates to all the things that had happened to him to give himself authentication and to knock out some of the rumors about him and his past. One of Douglass’ biggest critics was a man by the name of A.C.C. Thompson, who wrote that he had known “the recent slave by the name of Frederick Bailey” (138) trying to disprove all of Douglass’ firsthand accounts. Douglass responds to the statements by describing his time as a slave and explaining that without those experiences there was no way that he would’ve been able to write The Narrative in the Life. Ripley then goes on to explain how writing The Narrative was a major sign of Douglass’ growth and maturity. This essay explains how Douglass transformed from slave to abolitionist then on to sharing his life experiences by lecturing and educating others.…

    • 531 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Slavery is taught in many, if not all, educational systems in a way that focuses on the maltreatment of Africans by Whites. This concept is usually unanimously understood to be wrong and immoral. However, very few look beyond the beatings into the social structure of the slaves. Frederick Douglass’s, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, does not specifically focus on the slave social structure. Yet, if one were to look deeper into the book, the irony of the prejudices of the slave class can become more apparent.…

    • 499 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Learning and knowledge make all the difference in the world, as Frederick Douglass proves by changing himself from another man's slave to a widely respected writer. A person is not necessarily what others label him; the self is completely independent, and through learning can move proverbial mountains. The main focus of this essay is on the lives of the American Slaves, and their treatment by their masters. The brutality brought upon the slaves by their holders was cruel, and almost sadistic. These examples will cite how the nature of Douglass's thoughts and the level of his understanding changed, and his method of proving the evilness of slavery went from visual descriptions of brutality to more philosophical arguments about its wrongness.<br><br>Since Douglass was very much an educated man by the time he wrote the Narrative, it is as hard for him to describe his emotions and thoughts when he was completely devoid of knowledge as it is for a blind and deaf man to describe what he thought and felt before he learned to communicate with the outside world. Culture, society, and common beliefs are our bridge to communication with one another. Douglass, then, could never really explain all of what and how he felt about himself in his earlier slave days in such a way that those who read his autobiography would ever understand completely.<br><br>Our first glimpse of Douglass is as a small boy, without a birthday, father, or any sort of identity. "I have no accurate knowledge of my age … A want of information concerning my own was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood." (p. 39) Forced to eat his meals of mush out of a trough, wearing nothing but a long, coarsely-woven shirt, and being kept in complete mental darkness, Douglass was completely dehumanized even before he experienced the horrible violence of the slaveholders towards their slaves. His proof of the evil of slavery, a main theme in the Narrative, is mostly through visual descriptions of the violence…

    • 712 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    In conclusion, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass demonstrates how slaves were dehumanized physically, mentally, and emotionally. In some places children or people in general do not get the education needed. Just like the slave there is a sense of ignorance because they do not have all the information they need. Without this information they are in a way trapped…

    • 616 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    African slavery began at the sixteenth century and ended in the nineteenth century. Slave life was the most merciless and affronted period of America. When Africans first stepped foot on the slave ships coming to America things were terrible. The white man beat, assaulted, and treated the black men like creatures. Life on the estate was not any better.…

    • 753 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds.” (Page 9) This quote shows a lot of the pain they felt. They knew they weren't getting treated like how a normal person was being treated. No respect. No care taken upon them. Horses would even be treated better than the slaves were. That was how the slave owner/ overseer would see how the slaves were treated by comparing them with a horse. A horse is an animal, not a human being. All of this wrong. This was dehumanizing these people. Dehumanizing means making someone/ person less human than they are.…

    • 408 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Richard Dawkins, Author of The God Illusion, said in his book, “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.” This entire statement pertains to the characteristics of Existentialism. Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible person determining their own life and development through acts of will. This philosophy has been shown in the books Tuesday’s with Morrie and the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass and the life story of Malala Yousafzai. The…

    • 1374 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    was sent out on my own without help or support.Frederick Douglass is my grandson and I have heard a lot of good things about my grandson.my life is not too much excitement now that I have nobody here to talk to. I think a lot about if I kids and grandkids were here what I would do with them I pray the lord a lot about when he going to let me see my family again but it has not happened yet…

    • 82 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In the memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederick Douglass, accounts for the hardships Douglass endured being born into enslavement, but by utilizing knowledge of language as a means of freeing his mind from the cage of slavery, ultimately leads to his freedom in, 1838. As a prelude to his altercation with Mr. Covey, Douglass proclaims, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” Douglass indicates that the implication of dehumanizing factors, like deprivation of learning, have transformed men into ignorant slaves, but through rehumanizing components such as learning to read and write will transfigure the illiterate slave back into a man. The memoir conveys how slaves were…

    • 145 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, Frederick Douglass states, “People may not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” This statement is true according to the life that Frederick Douglass lived.” Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) is closely associated with the American Romanticism movement, which began in the early 1800s and lasted roughly 1865 the importance of individual freedom and liberty, the reliance of intuition over logic, and valued pure nature. Living a life in slavery helped Frederick Douglass to realize the importance of the freedom of his people, and through his perseverance, he was able to write his own life experiences down for America to read.…

    • 746 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    This excerpt is from his greater autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)” should remain a credible source. In this excerpt Frederick Douglass depicts his life as a young slave going through unconventional ways to learn how to read and write without formal education. He then goes on to explain how his view changed of the world he was living in since he became a literate slave. He soon speaks of the power of knowledge and how it forever changed him.…

    • 83 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass gives insight to the meaning of slavery and a personal story during the 19th century anti-bellum America. This narrative explores the personal experiences of one slave who had the courage to write about how he was treated and his remarkable life in his pursuit for freedom. During the anti-slavery movements of 1845 a vast majority of supporters came from the north consisting of some deeply religious individuals, and abolitionists. Abolitionists called for immediate release and emancipation of slaves while the rest supported slavery in every way it existed. When Douglass wrote this book slavery was still legal, but his larger goal was to abolish slavery and speak the truth for every slave…

    • 1141 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The reasoning for my poem is that it described parts of Frederick’s life in a more easier lyrical way. From top to bottom is in chronological order, the poem starts from where the book starts and ends how the book ends. The poem show an overview of who Frederick Douglass is on what he is to us. This Narrative summary poem represents who Frederick is, where he came from, and what he did. This poem will really help you understand what the book was talking about and make you think about what you just…

    • 95 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Frederick Douglass narrative I must say, has begun a spark into my personal study of slavery once again. I was previously intrigued by Joy Degruy’s theory of Post Traumatic slave Syndrome, but this narrative in particular, addressed a sickness I have never learned about before. For example, when he went into detail about how slaves would argue about which of their masters were wealthier or had more physical stature than the other. The idea that “it was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man's slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!”, was honestly baffling to me. To say the least, I was very disappointed in them in that they could defend their master even in their own privacy. I think that story was representative…

    • 311 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays