19C American Literature
September 30, 2014
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglas Frederick Douglass recounts the wrenching tale of his life as a slave in Maryland in the 1830’s in the historically significant story, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. He eloquently describes surviving his tortured existence buoyed by the hope and slim likelihood of an escape to a free land with no boundaries or shackles. His depiction powerfully and artfully represents “freedom”. With the use of juxtaposition against the horrifying accounts of his experiences as a slave, and the metaphoric and descriptive language used to describe a life of liberty, Douglass powerfully portrays the independent life he seeks. Ironically, once achieved, Douglass is unable to realize the security he dreams accompanies a free life, and lives tentatively in fear of returning to a shackled life as a slave. The juxtaposition of the horrid existence of a slave against the surreal experience of a free life highlights the worthwhile goal of freedom. The use of descriptive language helps to emphasize the disparity between liberty and slavery: “manacled brethren”, “beasts of burden”, “a horrible pit, with no ladder upon which to get out”, and “a den of hungry lions”. In contrast, Douglass depicts freedom as being “the silver trump”, and a “gateway to prosperity”. Douglass describes the dehumanizing existence of a slave. Like livestock and other chattels, slaves were valued for their worth and restricted from learning. A contented slave is described as one who “must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man.” (p.79) An example of the dehumanizing condition lived by slaves is the reference to the mush that slaves were fed in troughs: “The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush.” (p. 31). It is the deplorable...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document