Throughout Frederick Douglass 's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass attempts to educate himself. His first glimpse of education comes when his master’s wife, Mrs. Auld, teaches him the A, B, C’s and how to spell short words. Mr. Auld finds out his wife is committing the disgusting crime of teaching a slave and discontinues the lessons. Now, the only way for Douglass to learn is on his own. Eventually Douglass becomes educated and learns how to read and write. As a result of his new knowledge he truly understands the injustice surrounding him leading to his emancipation.
Without educating himself Douglass would not have completely understood the depravity of the slavery establishment in which he resided. Learning how to read shows Douglass the real inhumanity of depriving slaves education opportunities. During his time with Master Hugh, Douglass takes up an interest for The Columbian Orator. He is enlightened by the ideas embedded within the book. With this new insight he writes, “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers … As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish,” (51). Reading allows Douglass to become aware of everything he doesn’t have, as well as the discrimination that he faces. This “anguish” he is met with is from his new comprehension of his circumstances. Soon after, while reflecting more on his position, he thinks, “In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity… It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me,” (51). As Master Hugh predicted, becoming literate made Dougl...
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...measures, and spirit of the anti-slavery reform,” (112). Because he is able to read, he can formulate new opinions and ideas relating to the anti-slavery cause. Learning the alphabet provided Douglass with more than he ever could have anticipated. If not for education Douglass would never be in this spot, a free man reading a newspaper, living a better life in New Bedford.
From the time the Aulds stop teaching Douglass how to read and write, Douglass is dedicated to learn himself. With an unabated hunger for knowledge, he succeeds in becoming literate. The outcome of his hard work and motivation is emancipation. Through learning how to read and write Douglass attains a thorough grasp of the entire slavery institution. His perception of slavery results in his feverous backing of the abolitionist movement. Douglass unquestionably embodies the phrase knowledge is power.
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