In Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, one of the major themes is how the institution of slavery has an effect on the moral health of the slaveholder. The power slaveholders have over their slaves is great, as well as corrupting. Douglass uses this theme to point out that the institution of slavery is bad for everyone involved, not just the slaves. Throughout the narrative, Douglass uses several of his former slaveholders as examples. Sophia Auld, once such a kind and caring woman, is transformed into a cruel and oppressive slave owner over the course of the narrative. Thomas Auld, also. Douglass ties this theme back to the main concern of authorial control. Although this is a personal account, it is also a tool of propaganda, and is used as such. Douglass’s intent is to convince readers that the system of slavery is horrible and damaging to all included, and thus should be abolished completely. Douglass makes it very clear in his examples how exactly the transformation occurs and how kind and moral people can become those who beat their slaves and pervert Christianity in an attempt to justify it.
Frederick Douglass’ landmark narrative describes the dehumanization of African-American slaves, while simultaneously humanizing them through his moving prose. Douglass shows the dehumanization of slaves through depictions of violence, deindividuation, and the broken justice system. However, Douglass’ pursuit of an education, moving rhetoric, and critique of his own masters demonstrates to the reader that African-Americans are just as intelligent as white people, thus proving their humanity.
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.
“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”( Douglass). This famous quote epitomizes the philosophies of Frederick Douglass, in which he wanted everyone to be treated with dignity; if everyone was not treated with equality, no one person or property would be safe harm. His experience as a house slave, field slave and ship builder gave him the knowledge to develop into a persuasive speaker and abolitionist. In his narrative, he makes key arguments to white abolitionist and Christians on why slavery should be abolished. The key arguments that Frederick Douglass tries to vindicate are that slavery denies slaves of their identity, slavery is also detrimental for the slave owner, and slavery is ungodly.
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.
During the time of slavery, slaves were put to work on plantation, fields, and farms. They were considered property to their slave-owners and put under unfair living conditions. Growing up in this era, we can see the injustice between white and colored people. And one slave by the name of Fredrick Douglass witnessed this unjust tension. And because of this tension, dehumanizing practices became prominent among the slaves and in slave society. The most prominent of these injustices is the desire of slave owners to keep their slaves ignorant. This practice sought to deprive the slaves of their human characteristics and made them less valued. Fredrick Douglass was able to endure and confront this issue by asserting his own humanity. He achieved
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.
The confines of ignorance and both physical and mental abuse kept slaves from self discovery and rebellion. Frederick Douglass provides the journey of life as a brute to a free man. Frederick Douglass’s new identity included having a wife, a job of his own, a house, and the goal to reach out and help the people that were still stuck in slavery. From the rock bottom life of a slave he built himself up and became a successful