Analysis Of Douglass From Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl

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Harriet Tubman once said, “I think slavery is the next thing to hell” (Tubman 30), and Douglass and Jacobs agree. Douglass’s Narrative of the Life and Jacobs’s From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl share horrifying memories from their slave lives, including but not limited to physical and mental violence and inhumane treatments from abominable masters. While both authors describe and endure both types of violence in their narratives, there are subtle differences due to different situations, genders, and perspectives. Douglass seems to be focused on enduring the various forms of violence for his own independence, while Jacobs battles gender stigmas and violent oppressions for not only herself, but also her children. Thus, Jacobs was more …show more content…
She claims that “slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own” (Jacobs 830). Although Jacobs does mention physical violence in her narrative, she centers her narrative on female damage from mental violence such as sexual oppression. Since men were considered the dominant gender during the slavery era, they were obligated to commit deplorable acts such as rape towards women. Jacobs had two negatives going against her, being a black woman, so she was subject to not only physical violence but also sexual oppression and rape. Slave owners also“never allowed his offspring by slaves to remain long in sight of himself and his wife” and thus she “shuddered at the sound of his footsteps and trembled within hearing of his voice” (828). While Douglass was seeking freedom for himself, Jacobs had to worry about her own children as well. No mother should ever be separated from their children, even if their children are the products of rape.
Today, in the era of freedom, we rely on slave memoirs to live vicariously through the eyes of survived slaves. However, slavery may have been even worse than we assume, as there were times when slavery was in times “too cruel to describe in words.” While at first Douglass’s narrative seemed graver as he directly emphasized slavery’s physical violence, Jacobs struggled just as much or even more as women were subject to sexual oppression and rape. In spite of that, both Douglass and Jacobs’s narratives show slavery’s extreme violence, ranging from brutal whippings to persecution and

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