They did not want the slaves seeking hope and forming an escape plan to gain their freedom. Douglass stated that becoming literate “had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out (Puchner, Martin).” A second theme present in this narrative is how slavery not only damaged African Americans, but the white slave owners as well. It shows how slave owners thrived on the power of “owning” human beings. Douglass states how being a slave owner was harmful to the owner’s moral sense of health because it is unnatural for a human to own another human/ humans.
In the annals of American history slavery was a dark time. Although many abhorred the practice of slavery, few had the courage to come forth and proclaim the depravity of it. In Frederick Douglass’s (1845/1995) autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author addressed the horrors of slavery and clearly displayed the condition of his fellow slaves. Frederick Douglass wrote his account of the mistreatment of the slaves in order to expose the fallacy of the economic argument for slavery and condemn the hypocrisy of the Southern Christian slave owners. Douglass’s work revealed how the slaves were treated as though they had neither value nor rights as human beings.
It showed them how slavery actually affected the slaves and how they were treated by their owners. Some Northerners, however, criticized the book, some because they believed it exaggerated slavery's cruelty and others because they thought it downplayed slavery ("Uncle). The novel was so gruesome at times that people could not believe that what had happened in the book could really happen to slaves. The novel outraged the South and they declared the book to be criminal, slanderous and utterly false ("Africans). Obviously the south was for slavery and they did not like the book because they did not want others to know what was happening to their slaves.
Slaveholders were expected to treat slaves as something less than human, which drove slave owners to enforce cruel and barbaric reprimands toward slaves. Frederick Douglass argues that slavery manipulates a person’s identity, mainly because of social expectations. There were rules and laws to abide to in regard of slaves; among the primary issues, slaves had no purpose in having the ability to read or write, while Douglass was being taught by an oblivious Mrs. Auld. Douglass’ mistress, had never owned a slave before Douglass, because of this, Mrs. Auld was not aware of how she was expected to treat a slave. Frederick Douglass relates how kindly and goodhearted Mrs. Auld was before her husband taught her the “correct” manner of treating a slave.
Little effort was ever made to improve the wretched and degrading living conditions under which they were forced to live and also the harsh treatment and brutal punishments inflicted on them by their owners. The causes of the 1763 rebellion/revolt in Berbice resulted from harsh treatment. For example they had to work long hours on plantations and the masters did not care about the manner in which he was treating the slaves but of making a profit; the slaves also has a great passion to get their freedom because some of them knew what freedom felt like and wanted to experience those conditions again. The slaves desired revenge against the whites due to the ill treatment they received from the manager and overseer. The slaves wished for permanent freedom from the Dutch and felt that a revolt was the only way to achieve this.
However, if you dig deeper into the real history of slaves in America, the stories won’t always be as peaceful. Slaves were not always purchased by someone with compassion. Many cases show these poor slaves being treated with quite inhumane practices. Those slaves were given no choice except to try to find a way out of their dismal and dangerous lives. It was that desperate drive for survival that led to uprisings against the white man.
In the narrative Douglass shows us how slave owners and their sympathizers described blacks in terms of negative stereotypes to justify treating them as property. These stereotypes provided the foundation for the mythology of the plantation. Slave owners liked to think of themselves as the masters and even father-figures of a class of inferior, childlike people who could not survi... ... middle of paper ... ...her former slaves struggled hard to reclaim the right to define his own identity. To name himself was a huge accomplishment, carrying with it the right to tell his own story. Therefore, by him establishing his own identity on his own terms he catapulted his career as an abolitionist and his own claim to freedom.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave was a bibliography written by Frederick Douglass himself that told of his experiences of being a slave in the United States. He expresses the brutality the slave owners and how he struggled with running away to become a free human being. The themes of his story include: the ignorance of slaves, the treatment of slaves as property, religion used as justification, and the abuse of female slaves. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick explains the slave owners want to keep their slaves as ignorant and illiterate as possible because the more knowledgeable a slave becomes the more “unmanageable” he will become. He will start to develop ideas on his own and question the authority of his masters.
This meant that these bastard children were slaves despite their paternal heritage because their mother was a slave. The effect of this revelation was to shock and offend the morals of the conservative northern whites. Northern society scorned people in adulterous and interracial relationships. By portraying these Southerners as immoral and adulterous, Douglass wanted to cultivate in his audience a damaging opinion of southern slaveholders (Quarles ix). Continuing with the theme o... ... middle of paper ... ...streated and punished their slaves, and how they used religion as an excuse to legitimize their immoral actions.
This essentially led to Frederick having his first epiphany: that he is a slave and that his master would try to dehumanize him whenever the opportunity was presented to him. This is evident when Douglass states the slaves are subject to receiving limited supplies, lack of privacy and cruel whippings whenever their services were deemed to not be up to par (Douglass 14). Masters mistreated their slaves in order to make them feel inferior, which would prevent the slaves from lashing out and fighting for their equality. Yet a human can withstand so much suffering until they realize they deserve