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.
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.
Douglass's narrative is, on one surface, intended to show the barbarity and injustice of slavery. However, the underlying argument is that freedom is not simply attained through a physical escape from forced labor, but through a mental liberation from the attitude created by Southern slavery. The slaves of the South were psychologically oppressed by the slaveholders' disrespect for a slave’s family and for their education, as well as by the slaves' acceptance of their own subordination. Additionally, the slaveholders were trapped by a mentality that allowed them to justify behavior towards human beings that would normally not be acceptable. In this manner, both slaveholder and slave are corrupted by slavery.
According to Douglass, the treatment of a slave was worse than that of an animal. Not only were they valued as an animal, fed like an animal, and beaten like an animal, but also a slave was reduced to an animal when he was just as much of a man as his master. The open mentality a slave had was ...
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.
2, pg. 14). He uses his former experience with former master Colonel Lloyd to emotionally appeal, the use of pathos, to the reader that slavery is not something that should be supported whatsoever because it would horrify the very fabric of their existence, both of which, if taken into perspective, would counter any supporting statements for slavery. Douglass shows that the Southern argument for slavery is incredibly invalid by expertly showing how that supporters for slavery have not lived in the fragile bodies of the slaves who worked tirelessly and, sometimes, towards their unfortunate deaths, stating that their supporting stances would turn right around if they experienced a mere day in the hellhole that he experienced, if the person had a soul at all. Stating that the idea of slavery was a “system of fraud and inhumanity of slavery” (Ch. 10, pg. 77) that dressed in “robes already crimsoned with the blood of millions, and even now feasting itself greedily upon our own flesh” (Ch. 10, pg. 85), Douglass described the mere concept of slavery as a dreadful and malignant demon that seeks to destroy
Frederick Douglass, the author of the book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”, said “I saw more clearly than ever the brutalizing effects of slavery upon both slave and slaveholder” (Douglass, p.71). Modern people can fairly and easily understand the negative effects of slavery upon slave. People have the idea of slaves that they are not allow to learn which makes them unable to read and write and also they don’t have enough time to take a rest and recover their injuries. However, the negative effects upon slaveholder are less obvious to modern people. People usually think about the positive effects of slavery upon slaveholder, such as getting inexpensive labor. In the book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”, Douglass also shows modern readers some brutalizing impact upon the owner of the slaves. He talks about Thomas Auld and Edward Covey who are his masters and also talks about Sophia Auld who is his mistress. We will talk about those three characters in the book which will help us to find out if there were the negative influences upon the owner of the slaves or not. Also, we will talk about the power that the slaveholders got from controlling their slaves and the fear that the slaveholders maybe had to understand how they were changed.
However, through rhetorical devices, Douglass demonstrates how slavery also had a degrading influence on slaveholders and thus shows its corrupting nature. Specifically, he contrasts the shift in Sophia Auld’s character through antithesis and metaphor after being exposed to slavery. Before Mrs. Auld’s corruption, Douglass described his master by claiming, “Her face was made of heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music” (32). Through metaphor, Douglass makes her sound like an angel with “heavenly smiles.” Angels are commonly associated with pureness and therefore by making this metaphor Douglass associates Mrs. Auld as originally being pure. However, he then juxtaposes this idea when he claims she has received the “fatal poison of irresponsible power”(32) also known to him as being a slave master. He explains her new characteristics by stating, “That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made of all sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon”(32-33). Through metaphor and antithesis, Douglass shows how she shifts from being an angel to a demon. The metaphor associates Mrs. Auld with satan and the antithesis makes her list of changing features appear extensive. Through these rhetorical devices, Douglass is able to emphasize the abruptness of her change in character due to her experience around slavery. By explaining this personal experience in his narrative, Douglass shows to his audience the unexpected negatives of slavery and how it not only dehumanizes slaves, but masters as well. This most likely would have given Northern abolitionists stronger reasons to push for Douglass’s goal of
In the book written by Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Douglass takes on a form of bullying. In his writing, Douglass takes us along a path that took him from slavery to freedom. During this journey from slave to freedom, he starts off born into slavery. With him growing up in slavery, it is what he is used to. He doesn’t see slavery as something different to what he is accustomed to. Although when he is seven years old, he is sent to Baltimore to work for a new master. Here is an example along Douglass’s journey that shows encountering different conditions can change a person’s way they perceive and live throughout life. Douglass being sent to his new master not only affected himself, but