A former slave, and a distinguished human rights leader, Frederick Douglass documents his experiences in bondage in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Douglass exposes the horrors and injustices of slavery while expressing his sentiments of the idea of American slavery and the hypocrisy of slave owners. The autobiography ultimately inspired and influenced abolitionists, creating a revolution in the North. Despite accusations of inaccuracy, Douglass effectively disproves the mythology of slavery through his vivid and poignant accounts as a slave himself.
Frederick Douglass refutes the mythology of slavery by rebuking its romantic image. Many were blind to the atrocities of slavery due to their belief that slavery consisted of fair treatment and contentment. Another false romantic image includes the idea that the slaves sing because of joy in their daily toils. Despite these false beliefs, Douglass reveals that the songs that slaves sing are a “testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains” (29). These songs of sorrow and anguish prove that slavery was by no means just or fair, but subjugate and demeaning. These songs convince people to believe that these are indications of joy, but Douglass claims that this belief is “impossible to conceive of a greater mistake...the songs of the slave represent the sorrow of his heart” (30). Douglass disproves this common misconception and contradicts Romantic assumptions of satisfaction in bondage. Also, Douglass condemns the hypocrisy of slaveowners and the belief that slavery is justified by Christianity. It is evident that slave owners such as Mr. Thomas Auld, become more cruel through their strong belief ...
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...f dissipation” (83). The owners dangle false hope of freedom as they scheme to divide and conquer the slaves, convincing them that they are better off as slaves.
In conclusion, Frederick Douglass’ riveting narrative effectively debunks the mythology of slavery by addressing the false romantic image of slavery, intellectual inferiority of black slaves, the disloyalty among slaves, and Christianity as its justification. It is evident that many were blind to the atrocities of slavery and formed a false image of slavery hidden by the facade of refinement and gentility of the south. Douglas’s narrative exposes the harsh realities of life in bondage and provoking abolitionists’ uproar in the north; ultimately fueling the Civil War. Frederick Douglass’ efforts are not in vain as he successfully leads his race from darkness to enlightenment by means of this narrative.
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