Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: The Evils of Slavery

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: A Perspective on the Evils of Slavery

The institution of slavery defies the very nature of humanity, truth, and intellect from both the slave and the slave owner. Throughout the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave; the terrible relationship between ignorance and suppression is seen time and time again with every one of his owners. Douglass is fortunate in discovering the liberating power of knowledge of which his owners are trying so diligently to conceal. With this discovery comes a "new conception" of just how evil the institution of slavery is, causing Douglass to consider the pursuit of this powerful tool. To further complicate his battle against ignorance, Douglass's pathway to enlightenment and ultimately freedom leads him to discover the many other cruel methods that his suppressors use to break the essential and most important component of humanity, the soul.

The practice of turning people into slaves can almost be looked at as evil science that begins its manipulations on what humans are most familiar with from the start, physical suffering. Douglass speaks of this early on and makes known that it is an ever-present tool used by his suppressors. Douglass was lucky not to be whipped very often by his early masters, but mentions that he, like many other young lave children, always suffered from the "hunger and cold" (Lauter 1773). Especially during his early years on Colonel Lloyd's plantation, his narration recalls many accounts of whipping, killing, and torture that he observed and heard of on the plantation. Sadly, he begins to notice and even accept common traits possessed by his overseers. For example, one of...

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...rkness" (Lauter 1777). Interestingly, it is the innocent minds of children who are not totally corrupted by these ways of thinking yet, that help Douglass continue his goal to read. The heartless act and "irresponsible power" of holding a slave is an evil practice that contradicts the natural good of a human soul.

This Narrative gives one a new perspective on the evils of slavery and the terrible way it affects every one who is involved. The ignorance and physical abuse of the slave is the essential means by which this practice survived for too long. Douglass gives us proof of this in his experiences he endured in overcoming these obstacles and makes us aware of the power that knowledge holds, of both freedom and slavery.


Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature Ed III., Vol I, 1998 Houghton

Mifflin Company, Boston.
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