Essay On Slavery In The Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

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Slavery was a taught institution with a destructive power that corrupted the minds of owners and weakened enslaved individuals’ intellects. In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass explores slavery to be damaging to the enslaved individuals, as well as to their owners as well. Through descriptive text, Douglass demonstrates the dehumanizing effects the institution of slavery imposes on enslaved individuals and those who own them. Enslaved individuals were often dehumanized falling victim to the physical abuse imposed by their owners. Douglass states, “My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes” (36). Douglass utilizes his pen as a symbolic tool to gauge …show more content…
Douglass recounts, “he took her into the kitchen, and stripped her from neck to waist, leaving her neck, shoulders, and back entirely naked…After crossing her hands, he tied them with a strong rope…he commenced to lay on the heavy cowskin” (20). Aunt Hester rebels against her master because she still views herself as a person capable of choice. Captain Anthony brutally beats Aunt Hester out of jealousy. He wants her to feel humiliation and less than human for disobeying him. Douglass states, “he was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slaveholding” (20). Captain Anthony allows the pressures of slavery to outweigh his feelings for Aunt Hester. At this point Captain Anthony loses his …show more content…
Auld idealizes her warm feelings and emotions, and his description of her transformation dramatizes her animal like qualities. Thus, showing that she used to have sympathy for any person that was suffering, but owning enslaved individuals hardened her heart until she became as cruel as a tiger. Douglass states, “When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman… Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness” (43). Mrs. Auld’s gender influences her portrayal in the novel. Within the period The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass was written, Mrs. Auld would have been a maternal figure often associated with moral righteousness. Describing her as an evil owner would directly correlate with corruption and moral issues within society. The actions of Mr. Gore throughout the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass highlight the dehumanizing impact on slaveholders and their goal in preserving the dehumanizing effects of slavery. Douglass states, “He spoke but to command, and commanded but to be obeyed; he dealt sparingly with his words, and bountifully with his whip” (33). The whip has become the identity of Mr. Gore as a powerful overseer. He must prove that he is the best and deserves his position explaining why is brutal to the enslaved

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