Distress and Individualism: Comparing Douglass and de la Cruz

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Frederick Douglass once said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe” (Brainy Quotes 1). Many people believe in order for society to be safe and homeostatic, the economy and irrational mentalities must change. Prior to comparing and contrasting Frederick Douglass and Sor Juana de la Cruz, brief summaries of the literary works "Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz" and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass will be given. Sor Juana de la Cruz and Frederick Douglass have several notable similarities and differences. The comparisons that will be discussed are based on the following human conditions; fear, identity, and time period.

Sor Juana de la Cruz is born into a wealthy family in 1648 that lived near Mexico City, Mexico. After being a part of the Viceregal court and a lady in waiting, Cruz begins her spiritual journey and joins the convent. Here, Cruz explores both secular and non-secular studies. She is an exceptionally talented writer with a passion for reading, learning, and writing. She is scolded for the information she writes and is told to focus exclusively on religious dogma. Soon after the Bishop of Pubela reads one of her letters, he publishes it (without her knowing), and she responds with a respectful yet sarcastic letter (Lawall and Chinua 155-156). Cruz’s “Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz” was written during the period of Enlightenment of Europe (1660- 1770). This era in Europe casted an opaque shadow over women’s rights to educate themselves and self-expression. Sor Juana’s piece however is both inspirational and empoweri...

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