In Frederick Douglass' autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, he writes about the inhumanity and brutality of slavery, with the intention of informing white, American colonists. Douglass is thought to be one of the greatest leaders of the abolition, which radically and dramatically changed the American way of life, thus revolutionizing America. Douglass changed America, and accomplished this through writing simply and to the point about the "reality" of slavery, told through the point of view of a slave. In a preface of Douglass' autobiography, William Lloyd Garrison writes, "I am confident that it is essentially true in all its statements; that nothing has been set down in malice, nothing exaggerated, nothing drawn from the imagination; that it comes short of reality, rather than overstates a single fact in regard to slavery as it is" (Douglass, 6). This statement authenticates and guarantees Douglass' words being nothing but the truth. Douglass' enslaved life was not an accurate representation of the common and assumed life of a slave. He, actually, often wished that he was not so different and had the same painful, but simpler ignorance that the other slaves had. It was his difference, his striving to learn and be free that made his life so complicated and made him struggle so indefinitely. Douglass expresses this in writing, "I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me" (Douglass, 53). In his narrative, Douglass does generalize to relate his experience to that of other slaves, creating a parallel between his life and the life of any other slave. He writes about the brutality, physi... ... middle of paper ... ...edge. In his narrative, Douglass layers the many brutal, cruel, inhumane, and true components of slavery in his life, underlying each story with a political motive and relation. This method of writing was for his audience removed from slavery, those ignorant of slavery, uninformed, misunderstood, and those who were fortunate to have freedom. Douglass illustrates living conditions, experiences, tragedies, and struggles to great depths. Everywhere, African Americans escaped the binds of slavery due to Frederick Douglass' determination. He revolutionized America, being one of the greatest leaders of the abolition, being the reason for so many freed lives, and leading to the complete abolition and illegality of slavery in America. Works Cited Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Boston: The Anti-Slavery Office, 1845.
Literature is written in many ways and styles. During his time, Frederick Douglass’s works and speeches attracted many people’s attention. With the amount of works and speeches Douglass has given, it has influenced many others writers to express themselves more freely. Though Douglass lived a rigorous childhood, he still made it the best that he could, with the guidance and teaching of one of his slave owner’s wife he was able to read and write, thus allowing him to share his life stories and experiences. Douglass’s work today still remain of great impact and influence, allowing us to understand the reality of slavery, and thus inspiring many others to come out and share for others to understand.
From before the country’s conception to the war that divided it and the fallout that abolished it, slavery has been heavily engrained in the American society. From poor white yeoman farmers, to Northern abolitionist, to Southern gentry, and apathetic northerners slavery transformed the way people viewed both their life and liberty. To truly understand the impact that slavery has had on American society one has to look no further than those who have experienced them firsthand. Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and advocate for the abolitionist, is on such person. Douglass was a living contradiction to American society during his time. He was an African-American man, self-taught, knowledgeable, well-spoken, and a robust writer. Douglass displayed a level of skill that few of his people at the time could acquire. With his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave Written by Himself, Douglass captivated the people of his time with his firsthand accounts into the horror and brutality that is the institution of slavery.
Douglass's Narrative brings an ugly era of American history to life as it weaves through his personal experiences with slavery, brutality, and escape. Most importantly Douglass reveals the real problem in slavery, which is the destructive nature of intolerance and the need for change. Douglass refers many times to the dehumanizing effects sla...
Douglass's descriptions of the severity of slave life are filled with horrific details able to reach even the coldest hearts. The beginning of the narrative tells of how Douglass lacks one of the most celebrated identities of humans - the knowledge of ones own age. "I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant." (12) In saying this Douglass is showing how low the life of a slave is compared to other humans. The idea of slaves being seen as merely work animals is placed into the minds of the reader to set an idea for the rest of the book.
In a preface of Douglass' autobiography, William Lloyd Garrison writes, "I am confident that it is essentially true in all its statements; that nothing has been set down in malice, nothing exaggerated, nothing drawn from the imagination; that it comes short of the reality, rather than overstates a single fact in regard to SLAVERY AS IT IS."(Garrison, 34). The significance of this statement validates and promises that Douglass' words are nothing but the truth. This made the narrative more marketable to the white audience and people were listening. Douglass realized that he did not need assurance from white people to be respected. That's why he addressed his master for all the wrong things done to him. Slaves are looked as not human. Douglass completes his journey from slave to man when he creates his own identity. He speaks out, fighting as an abolitionist and finally becoming an author. Douglass tells his story not simply as a search for fr...
...streated and punished their slaves, and how they used religion as an excuse to legitimize their immoral actions. “Slavery was a most painful situation; and, to understand it, one must experience it, or imagine himself in similar circumstances … then, and not till then, will he fully appreciate the hardships of, and know how to sympathize with, the toil worn and whipped-scarred … slave” (64). Douglass’s own words are meant as a plea for his readers to imagine themselves in his situation he and other slaves endured to better understand the hardships he and other slaves endured (Quarles xi).
In this narrative, Douglass, after very many obstacles are conquered, eventually overcomes the ultimate hardship of all time; slavery. At the time this narrative was written (1845), slavery was a common practice in the south, and it was nearly unheard of to escape its grueling jaws. One of Douglass’s first memories was seeing his aunt being tied up and beaten until the warmth of her own blood dripping down her back became pools of dried up blood at her feet. The screams he heard that day were unforgettable, and forever branded in his ears. This eventually led to his own beatings, in the same manner. At an early age, Douglass realized that he could no longer live this way, and decided to do something about it. His perseverance came in baby steps: first learning to read, next to acquire allies, and finally to make his move and never look back. If Douglass were to forget his end goal in any of this chaos, it is likely that he would have became swallowed up in adversity and let it consume him until he had completely lost his will to escape, or even live. However, keeping his end goal in mind, he was brilliant with his delicate moves to escape the sink hole that is
Douglass wrote three biographies about his life as a politician, slave, and abolitionist. However, the historical value of these works does not remain as important as the quality of the works themselves. Frederick Douglass’ writing deserves recognition in the canon of great American authors, because his work meets the chosen criteria for inclusion in a collection of important literature. Douglass influenced many famous abolitionists with his literary works, and this impact, coupled with his desire to write an expose about oppression in America, makes him a winning candidate. Although his published works, mostly autobiographies, received much acclaim from abolitionists, this paper explores the quality of Douglass’s work from a literary standpoint. This paper also details the events shaping Douglass’s impressive life and writing career. By examining the prestigious “life and times” of this black author, the reader will recognize the widespread influence of Douglass’s writing on other antislavery writers, politics, and hence, the public. In a look at his first and greatest work, Narrative of the Life, the following paper will demonstrate why Frederick Douglass deserves a place in the hall of great American writers. To fully appreciate the impact of Douglass’s autobiographies, we must examine violent period in which he lived. Douglass, born in 1818, grew up as a slave on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation in eastern Maryland. At the time, abolitionist movements started gaining speed as popular parties in the North. In the North, pro-slavery white mobs attacked black communities in retaliation for their efforts. By the time Douglass escaped from slavery, in 1838, tensions ran high among abolitionists and slaveowners. Slaves published accounts of their harrowing escapes, and their lives in slavery, mainly with the help of ghostwriters. Although abolitionists called for the total elimination of slavery in the South, racial segregation still occurred all over the United States. Blacks, freemen especially, found the task of finding a decent job overwhelming.
Frederick Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War. A brilliant speaker, Douglass was asked by the American Anti-Slavery Society to engage in a tour of lectures, and so became recognized as one of America's first great black speakers. He won world fame when his autobiography was publicized in 1845. Two years later he bagan publishing an antislavery paper called the North Star. Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for blacks. Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice. The Slave Years Frederick Baily was born a slave in February 1818 on Holmes Hill Farm, near the town of Easton on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The farm was part of an estate owned by Aaron Anthony, who also managed the plantations of Edward Lloyd V, one of the wealthiest men in Maryland. The main Lloyd Plantation was near the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay, 12 miles from Holmes Hill Farm, in a home Anthony had built near the Lloyd mansion, was where Frederick's first master lived. Frederick's mother, Harriet Baily, worked the cornfields surrounding Holmes Hill. He knew little of his father except that the man was white. As a child, he had heard rumors that the master, Aaron Anthony, had sired him. Because Harriet Baily was required to work long hours in the fields, Frederick had been sent to live with his grandmother, Betsey Baily. Betsy Baily lived in a cabin a short distance from Holmes Hill Farm. Her job was to look after Harriet's children until they were old enough to work. Frederick's mother visited him when she could, but he had only a hazy memory of her. He spent his childhood playing in the woods near his grandmother's cabin. He did not think of himself as a slave during these years. Only gradually did Frederick learn about a person his grandmother would refer to as Old Master and when she spoke of Old Master it was with certain fear.
Frederick Douglass, an African American social reformer who escaped from slavery, in his autobiography “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself,” denotes the perilous life of a slave in the South. Through syntax, Douglass is able to persuade his readers to support the abolitionist movement as his writing transitions from shifting sentence lengths to parallel structure and finally to varying uses of punctuation. Douglass begins his memoir with a combination of long and short sentences that serve to effectively depict life his life as a slave. This depiction is significant because it illustrates the treatment of slaves in the south allows his audience to despise the horrors of slavery. In addition, this
Frederick Douglass once said, "there can be no freedom without education." I believe this statement is true. During slavery, slaves were kept illiterate so they would not rebel and become free. Many slaves were stripped from their families at an early age so they would have no sense of compassion towards family members. Some slaves escaped the brutal and harsh life of slavery, most who were uneducated. But can there be any real freedom without education?
Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey on Maryland's Eastern Shore in 1818, he was the son of a slave woman and, her white master. Upon his escape from slavery at age 20, he adopted the name of the hero of Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake. Douglass immortalized his years as a slave in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). This and two other autobiographies, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), mark his greatest contributions to American culture. Written as antislavery propaganda and personal revelation, they are regarded as the finest examples of the slave narrative tradition and as classics of American autobiography.
Frederick Douglass emphasizes the dehumanization aspect of slavery throughout his narrative. As is the general custom in slavery, Douglass is separated from his mother early in infancy and put under the care of his grandmother. He recalls having met his mother several times, but only during the night. She would make the trip from her farm twelve miles away just to spend a little time with her child. She dies when Douglass is about seven years old. He is withheld from seeing her in her illness, death, and burial. Having limited contact with her, the news of her death, at the time, is like a death of a stranger. Douglass also never really knew the identity of his father and conveys a feeling of emptiness and disgust when he writes, "the whisper that my master was my father, may or may not be true; and, true or false, it is of but little consequence to my purpose" (Douglass, 40). Douglass points out that many slave children have their masters as their father. In these times, frequently the master would take advantage of female slaves and the children born to the slave w...
The Narrative of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass is written to have people place their feet in the shoes of Frederick Douglass and try to understand the experience he went through as a slave. Douglass writes this piece of literature with strong wording to get his point across. He is not trying to point out the unpleasant parts of history, but to make people face the truth. He wants readers to realize that slavery is brutalizing and dehumanizing, that a slave is able to become a man, and that some slaves, like himself, have intellectual ability. These points are commonly presented through the words of Douglass because of his diction.
When first introduced to Douglass and his story, we find him to be a young slave boy filled with information about those around him. Not only does he speak from the view point of an observer, but he speaks of many typical stereotypes in the slave life. At this point in his life, Frederick is inexperienced and knows nothing of the pleasures of things such as reading, writing, or even the rights everyone should be entitled to. Douglass knowing hardly anything of his family, their whereabouts, or his background, seems to be equivalent to the many other slaves at the time. As a child Frederick Douglass sees the injustices around him and observes them, yet as the story continues we begin to see a change.