Essay on Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

1028 Words Nov 19th, 2014 null Page
Education is one of the most important themes in Frederick Douglass’ 1845 autobiographical memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. However, despite the emphasis placed on education, it is presented as a double-edged sword. On one hand, Frederick Douglass feels that the only way to secure freedom for himself and his fellow slaves is to through learning how to read and write and receiving an education. On the other hand, education is presented as damaging to the mind as Frederick Douglass becomes increasingly aware of the full extent of his servitude. Throughout the memoir, Douglass presents education as a negative force on the psychology of the slaves as well as incompatible with the system of slavery.
Education, counterintuitively, is presented by Frederick Douglass as a negative influence on himself. In the beginning of the narrative, Douglass actively seeks out avenues for him to receive an education, taking his books when he ran errands and giving bread to “the hungry little urchins, who in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge” (253). However, as Douglass becomes increasingly educated, he also is becoming more acutely aware of slavery. At one point he even states that he “at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing…” (254). For Frederick Douglass, his education has allowed him to understand the true nature of his servitude. Douglass writes that “[Learning to read] opened my eyes to the…

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