Comparative Evaluation in Slave Life: Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass

2566 Words Dec 27th, 2005 11 Pages
This paper is a comparative evaluation I did between the autobiographical experiences of two former slaves, Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, were both written during the same time period (the former in 1861, the latter in1856). These two books are compelling works of African American Literature. They are depressing but at the same time hopeful, discouraging but uplifting. Both authors go into many aspects concerning the brutality of slavery, but I have thoroughly reviewed and am about to go over only a few in this analysis. Some of the more pertinent issues are a slaves childhood, the effect of gender on …show more content…
One would think that male slaves would get harsher physical punishments than female slaves would, but that is not the case. Take an example out of Douglass' book from Chapter 6. This is during the time period when Douglass is living at Baltimore with Hugh and Sophia Auld. In this particular part of his autobiography, Douglass comments on how well the Masters treat their slaves in the city, with the exception of his Master's neighbor. This man owned two slaves, both women, who he beat so severely that Douglass says, "His heart must be harder than stone, that could look upon these unmoved". The one slave, Mary was beaten so badly, Douglass describes her as "mangled and emaciated". There are many other references to the beating of women slaves throughout both autobiographies. Female slaves had another kind of fear imbedded in them by their masters that male slaves could not feel, and that is sexual exploitation and the loss of their children. When Harriet reaches the age of 15, Dr. Flint makes his first sexual advance towards her. Dr. Flint, who was much her senior, makes sexual advances towards Linda, but Linda never bows down to his will. She is repeatedly yelled at and verbally disciplined, however never physically disciplined. It states in Chapter 5 of Incidents that Dr. Flint would at first act very violent towards her, being forceful towards her and acting as if she should subject to his every whim, especially sexual whims. If this method