Comparing Dehumanization in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Maus

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Dehumanization in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Maus  


 Through out history we learn of the mistreatment of many different types of people. Several different groups of people have been prosecuted and singled out for many different types of reasons. In recent history, the African Americans and the Jews have been the focus of discrimination. Slavery and the Holocaust were made to make these groups of people feel inferior to those who were in control of them. During these two periods, the people involved were treated like worthless, insignificant human beings. They were brought down to the level of a mouse. In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and in Maus, the main characters, Vladek
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            I have no accurate knowledge of my age…
            by far that larger part of the slaves know
            as little of their ages as horses know of
            theirs, and it is the wish of most masters
            within my knowledge to keep their slaves
            thus ignorant. (Douglass, pg.1)

Douglass even compares himself to a horse to show that he is thought of as an animal.

    Vladek was a simple man. He went to work just like everyone else and he came home to his wife and child every night just like any other normal human being would. That all changes when the Nazis decide that he is not allowed to go about his normal life anymore. Vladek must scavenge and hide like a rodent in order to survive. Vladek points out that he always saved and kept everything that he got while in the camps. The Nazis forced him to think like an animal. They also treated him and his friends like one.

    Douglass is denied an education until he is able to beg someone to teach him. To be denied an education is to be denied humanity itself. Without it, humans are

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