Frederick Douglass Thesis

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Frederick Douglass once said “knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave”. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass written by Frederick Douglass is about his origins and how he escaped the cruelty of slavery, to become the literate speaker that advocated for the abolishment of slavery. Douglass was born into slavery on the plantation of Captain Anthony in Tuckahoe, Maryland, and was quickly thrust into the hell that was slavery. Douglass spent his youth up until early adulthood toiling under the whip of multiple masters, until he finally escaped in September 1838, and was able to tell his story, criticizing slavery in hopes of achieving abolition. Douglass’ criticisms of the dehumanizing cruel and inhumane institution of slavery implies …show more content…
The destruction of identity is basically the destruction of the sense of self, turning the enslaved into mere tools, instruments of another’s will. Frederick was sent away from his master’s plantation and into Mr. Covey’s care in order to be “tamed” into an obedient slave. Under Covey’s abuse, Douglass’ personality changed,“ [his] natural elasticity was crushed, [his] intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered in [his] eye died; the dark night of slavery closed upon [him]; and behold a man transformed into a brute” (38). Douglass’ choice of diction describes his loss of fighting for freedom and by turning Frederick into a ‘brute’, which operates without personal desire or the goal of self protection, but instead operates to serve the “tamer”, or in this case, Mr. Covey. Douglass implies that a brute lacks true self consciousness, and becomes a field animal, used for labor. When Douglass says ‘the dark night of slavery closed upon [him]’, can be interpreted as the corruption (true subjugation by his master) he was once able to avoid now has him in a cornered, trapped in the world as a helpless slave who was unable to think for himself, but instead exist to work and suffer under the institution of slavery. As beings created solely, to work and suffer, subjugated slaves …show more content…
Frederick’s mistress, Sophia Auld, was a kind-hearted person who accepted him despite the discrimination they faced. She had the advantage in terms of power, but she did not abuse it. His mistress decided to give Frederick a valuable gift, the gift of education. However, her husband ruined Frederick’s chance to learn because he reprimanded his wife until she gave up being nice to the enslaved and instead took advantage of the weak. When Frederick experienced his mistress’ wrath, he was both saddened and afraid of her cruel twist of character, which was due to slavery’s corruption of power. “It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity” (24).Frederick envied his fellow-slaves because of their inability to realize that their path leads to the inescapable doom that led them further away from freedom. He realizes that the power his mistress now hold, limits the access of the ‘ladder’ to freedom, even though she herself shone light on the pit Douglass existed in. Douglass then comes to the realization that, even though he was forbidden to do so by his master and mistress, that he had to become educated. Afterall, education had shown him the pit, so maybe it could show him the ladder as well. Frederick took in everything he could, despite his

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