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Oppressing others to assert dominance shows mans capability for cruelty. In Frederick Douglass' autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, the author recounts his rise from slavery to freedom. Douglass notes the negative influence of slavery on slave owners. Thorough his characterization of his former masters Douglass conveys the idea that slavery harms not only slaves but also the masters. The show of dominance slave owners display results from the need to affirm one's power over a group of people. However, the unstable relationship balances not on trust and respect but fear and hate. The inhumane treatments of human beings results in the degradation of the character of both those who inflict cruelties and those inflicted.
Douglass shows the dehumanizing effects slavery inflicts upon the character of his masters. Douglass describes his mistress, Mrs. Auld, as a ,"woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings" [13]. Never in his life had Douglass encountered a woman as sincere and good as Mrs. Auld. She embodied the disposition of one who had no contact with slavery, one who radiated tranquility and kindness. However, her gentility was short lived. Mrs. Auld proves unable to ward off the corruption slavery brings to one's disposition. Her, "cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, change to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon" [13]. Mrs. Auld's new position as a slave owner results in her transformation from an angel to a demon. In her attempt to assert her dominance over the slaves under her, Mrs. Auld becomes a cruel and harsh woman. Douglass no longer found solace in her presence but inst...

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...ce, Mr. Hopkins allows the demonic practice of slavery to influence his actions. Through the insincere actions of the preaching slaveholders, it becomes evident that the need to assert one's dominance over slaves results in the degradation of moral judgment.
Douglass characterizes the cruelty slave owners hold over the slaves. The harsh treatment of slaves results from the need to establish the master's influence and power over the slaves. Through the depictions of Mrs. Auld, Mr. Covey and Mr. Hopkins, Douglass shows the negative effects slavery possess over the actions of slave owners. The brutal slaveholders not only ruin their own character, but also harms the slaves. The unhappy environment slaves are subjected to live under results in crushed spirits and dreams. Douglass uses his experiences to show that man attains happiness when he becomes his own master.
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