Overcoming a Life of Brutality
In, “The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass”, readers get a first person perspective on slavery in the South before the Civil War. The author, Frederick Douglass, taught himself how to read and write, and was able to share his story to show the evils of slavery, not only in regard to the slaves, but with regard to masters, as well. Throughout Douglass’ autobiography, he shares his disgust with how slavery would corrupt people and change their whole entire persona. He uses ethos, logos, and pathos to help establish his credibility, and enlighten his readers about what changes needed to be made.
Within the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave” Douglass discusses the deplorable conditions in which he and his fellow slaves suffered from. While on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, slaves were given a “monthly allowance of eight pounds of pork and one bushel of corn” (Douglass 224). Their annual clothing rations weren’t any better; considering the type of field work they did, what little clothing they were given quickly deteriorated. The lack of food and clothing matched the terrible living conditions. After working on the field all day, with very little rest the night before, they must sleep on the hard uncomfortably cramped floor with only a single blanket as protection from the cold. Coupled with the overseer’s irresponsible and abusive use of power, it is astonishing how three to four hundred slaves did not rebel. Slave-owners recognized that in able to restrict and control slaves more than physical violence was needed. Therefore in able to mold slaves into the submissive and subservient property they desired, slave-owners manipulated them by twisting religion, instilling fear, breaking familial ties, making them dependent, providing them with an incorrect view of freedom, as well as refusing them education.
This excellent biography fluently tells the life story of Douglass; one of the 19th centuries's most famous writers and speakers on abolitionist and human rights causes. It traces his life from his birth as a slave in Maryland, through his self-education, escape to freedom, and subsequent lionization as a renowned orator in England and the United States. Fascinating, too, are accounts of the era's politics, such as the racist views held by some abolitionist leaders and the ways in which many policies made in post-Civil War times have worked to the detriment of today's civil rights movement. The chapter on Frederick Douglass and John Brown is, in itself, interesting enough to commend this powerful biography. The seldom-seen photographs, the careful chapter notes, documentation, and acknowledgements will encourage anybody to keep on learning about Frederick Douglass.
Throughout the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederick Douglass himself, the reader is given thoughtful insight into the slave condition and the institution of slavery as a whole. One learns very soon of the authoritative and controlling nature of the slave master, who, using the overseer as his pawn, is able to maintain control over his slaves and his planation through an amalgamation of both physical and mental abuse. Slaves are lead to believe that they are innately inferior to whites and are kept ignorant, unable to read or write, and unaware of the world outside their plantation. They are indoctrinated from birth through fear, for if any slave deviates from this merciless power structure, they face brutal punishment and even the possibility of death. Despite this seemingly insurmountable reality, Frederick Douglass, a slave for over twenty years, was able to resist. He gradually became aware of the psychology of the slave owners, and the immense power that they wielded. Douglass was able to escape the oppressive, exploitative, and controlling power structure of slavery by resolving to overcome his forced ignorance, and to unite his fellow slaves, realizing, along the way, his sense of self and innate integrity.
It is in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, that Douglass informs the reader not only of “how a man is [mentally] made a slave; you [also] see how a slave [is mentally] made a man” (75). Douglass informs the readers that slaves were often separated from their family members, by their slave owners because owners felt; slaves who had relationships would be a greater threat together than they would be if they were separated. In this novel, Douglass addresses the significance of the relationships that existed between slaves and their loved ones; he also shows how the absence of these relationships affected the slave’s state of mind and helped contribute to the formation of a slave’s identity.
In the passage of the Narrative of Fredrick Douglass, the author masterfully conveys two complimentary tones of liberation and fear. The tones transition by the use of diction and detail. The passage is written entirely in first person, since we are witnessing the struggles of Fredrick Douglass through his eyes. Through his diction, we are able to feel the triumph that comes with freedom along with the hardships. Similarly, detail brings a picturesque view of his adversities. Since the point of view is first person, the reader is able to be a part of the Douglass’ struggles with his new freedom. With diction, detail, and point of view, the reader is able to get a rare glimpse into the past of Fredrick Douglass.Fredrick Douglass’ diction is powerful as he describes his life as a slave and with his new freedom. Fredrick Douglass calls being enslaved an act of “wretchedness,” yet he was able to remain “firm” and eventually left the “chains” of slavery. Fredrick Douglass expresses that being enslaved is a wretched act and that no man should ever deserve such treatment. Despite being a slave, he kept strong and eventually broke the chain of society. However, Fredrick Douglass experienced great “insecurity” and “loneliness” with his new freedom, and was upon a new “hunting-ground.” His new freedom brought other devastating factors, being a new state without any friends, which caused his loneliness. In this new state, he grew insecure for he was in a new danger zone where at any time his freedom could be rejected. With new freedom come new obstacles, which are described in the diction of Fredrick Douglass.
In sum, all of these key arguments exist in “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” because of the institution of slavery and its resulting lack of freedom that was used to defend it. This text’s arguments could all be gathered together under the common element of inequality and how it affected the practical, social, and even spiritual lives of the slaves.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, brings to light many of the social injustices that colored men, women, and children all were forced to endure throughout the nineteenth century under Southern slavery laws. Douglass's life-story is presented in a way that creates a compelling argument against the justification of slavery. His argument is reinforced though a variety of anecdotes, many of which detailed strikingly bloody, horrific scenes and inhumane cruelty on the part of the slaveholders. Yet, while Douglas’s narrative describes in vivid detail his experiences of life as a slave, what Douglass intends for his readers to grasp after reading his narrative is something much more profound. Aside from all the physical burdens of slavery that he faced on a daily basis, it was the psychological effects that caused him the greatest amount of detriment during his twenty-year enslavement. In the same regard, Douglass is able to profess that it was not only the slaves who incurred the damaging effects of slavery, but also the slaveholders. Slavery, in essence, is a destructive force that collectively corrupts the minds of slaveholders and weakens slaves’ intellects.
Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland in 1818 as a slave to a maritime captain, Captain Anthony. After decades of enslavement, Frederick Douglass escaped to the North and became one of the prominent members and drivers of the abolitionist movement. In an effort to provide an eye-opening account of the harsh treatment of slaves, Douglass wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In his autobiography, Frederick Douglass detailed his life beginning from his meager early years through his escape to the North. In writing his autobiography, Douglass utilized a variety of techniques including the use of the three rhetorical strategies: Ethos, Pathos and Logos to create a powerful and influential argument against the institution of slavery in America.
The book I decided to read about is called “The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass.” This book is actually an autobiography about his real life experiences. The author of “The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass is of course Frederick this book was produced by him when he was 27 years old back in 1845. This book was produced in Massachusetts, but the settings of the story were in Eastern Shore of Maryland, Baltimore, New York City, New Bedford and lastly, Massachusetts. The main themes on this book would be how white slaveholders kept the slaves ignorant without an education and basically how the black people were mistreated. The only way Douglass found the way out was by getting educated in order for he can free himself.