Frederick Douglass Duality

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Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written in 1845 describes the frustration and freedom that he endured. One of the reprieves that Douglass was able to take advantage of was learning to read. This ability to read enabled him to become free of mind, even though he was not free in the body. A direct result of education for Douglass, the text follows how he tries to regain freedom in all aspects of his life. Even though he was not free of the body, Douglass’s emerging sense of body to the reader is a product of his education in the 19th century. In a post Enlightenment society, where intellectual freedom was supposedly for everyone, he was still denied education, however now he …show more content…
“[B]ut while they relieved me of one difficulty, they brought on another even more painful than the one of which I was relieved”. His identity, before his ability to read, was a slave. He served his master and if he did not, he would be punished. He is now consciously aware of his state, “relieved” of one understanding, but now must face the facts that slavery was wrong. As he read the documents that promoted slavery, he was able to express how wrong it was. Even moreso, he used the word “meet” which indicates that he is now on equally matched with the ones who had enslaved him. He is aware of what the Enlightenment preached, that men have an inherent freedom, and yet he was denied because of commerce’s sake. This leads him to hate the people who put him into such a state. Up until now, the skill to read was a commodity, but now with further understanding of what freedom of the mind, he turn it on its head. He took advantage of himself being bought and sold and used it for his own gain when he attains his education. He began to pursue his own gains and his own goals for not just the betterment of himself, but the betterment of other …show more content…
Therefore embracing the Enlightenment by educating himself of his own limited status as a slave. With reading comes a better understanding of self and identity within the place you are in society. Instead of remaining complacent as a slave, he began a revolution. When faced with Mr. Covey’s untoward behavior again, instead of succumbing to Mr. Covey he literally beat him back. As Covey is dominated, he asks Douglass whether “if I meant to persist in my resistance”. Douglas replied “I told him I did, come what might; that he had used me like a brute for six months, and that I was determined to be used so no longer”. This powerful moment is the next step in his own personal Enlightenment. He went from complete ignorance, to becoming aware, to an understanding of himself, to finally gain some of the stolen agency. Douglass pushed the limiting nature of repression aside and gained the ability to be in command of his own

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